Still just 27, Laura Marling released her Mercury-nominated debut album almost ten years ago now. Released in 2008, Alas I Cannot Swim was described by Under the Radar as “an awe-inspiring debut by an old soul on a mission”. The Guardian called it “unnervingly grown-up”, musicOMH praised its “astonishingly mature lyrics framed by beautifully pretty melodies”, and Spin commented that “Marling’s voice, rich and tenuous, recalls Joni Mitchell, but her fatalistic screeds – sung over acoustic guitar, with an occasional burst of percussion or strings – owe more to Nick Drake and Will Oldham”. Her father, a Baronet, ran a recording studio and introduced her to the folk tradition at a young age – something Marling described to the New York Times as “a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse”, saying “I couldn’t slot myself into the age-appropriate genre”.

Marling’s next album I Speak Because I Can (2010) reached the Top 5, as have her next four, and won global acclaim: Boston Globe said “Marling combines craft, instinct, and emotion for a collection of tunes that showcase a variety of mostly acoustic moods but coalesce into a hushed, beguiling whole” and Drowned in Sound called it “an album of elegance and brilliance”. In 2011, she won the Brit Award for Best British Female and the NME Award for Best Solo Artist, she also released her third album A Creature I Don’t Know. American Songwriter said “Marling has always sounded like an adult, even when she wasn’t one. Now that she’s got the actual years to back up her world-weary tone, she’s all the more thrilling”, while The Telegraph praised “the album’s powerful sense of forward motion”.

2012 saw Marling take a tour of America called Working Holiday and pen her fourth record Once I Was an Eagle. During the song-writing process, she only listened to music made between 1969 and 1972, a period that she described as a time when “guitar was becoming a kind of masculine extension” when interviewed by Under the Radar. The AV Club called the record “a master class in creation” and Record Collector “her most fulfilling work yet”. But when interviewed by the Telegraph about its Mercury nomination, Marling expressed doubt about her commitment to a career performing: “I am very private, in all aspects of my life, to everybody, so why is it that I get up on stage every night and open myself in front of strangers? I’m not sure if I’ve got the bottle for it, any more”.

Thankfully, all that followed was a slightly longer than usual break before the release of the next album Short Movie. And, not surprisingly, it was listed as one of the Albums of the Year by NME, Slant Magazine, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Q, Timeout and just about everyone else. This year’s release Semper Femina too has achieved great acclaim – Marling’s sixth album in a decade, she has produced some of her generation’s finest records, and as the AV Club have said this “is among her most affecting to date”.