New maturity for Laura Marling 

Laura Marling’s birthday this week should have been cause for celebration. The British neo-folk thrush had just hit Hollywood from a whirlwind tour of Australia, getting the word out on her gorgeous upcoming sophomore recording “I Speak Because I Can,” produced by Ethan Johns and backed by her longtime support group Mumford and Sons. But she just wasn’t in the party mood, and for good reason. “I’m 20 today,” she explained. “But I can’t drink — I’m not of legal age in America!”

So a U.K. folkie called Beans on Toast has actually recorded an ode to you, “I Fancy Laura Marling”? Yeah! Good old Beans. I’ve known him for years. And I was just 16 when he wrote that song, and I think he played it for me at a gig I was at. It’s really quite funny.

Will you write one for him? No. But I do love beans on toast, the food. So I think I could write a song about that.

So what’s changed since your debut, “Alas, I Cannot Swim”? Well, I’m three years older and hopefully three years wiser. But that’s not confirmed. And I guess I’m on my way to becoming an adult, weirdly enough. But I’ve had to learn how to deal with other people on an adult level. I was quite shy when I started, but I’ve learned that it’s a necessity to be able to converse. Plus, I’m all over the world, living out of a suitcase.

How has your songwriting changed? I think I’ve become less self-­conscious. I mean, I never really write a firsthand song, a really personal story. But I’ve become less self-aware, and I’m more open about things I want to say — things I’m not sure people want to hear about.

So you have a third album coming later this year?
It’ll be different. My band won’t be able to tour and play with me anymore ’cause they’re off doing their own thing. So this next one will be more of me and my piano player, and we’re going to try and do something a bit crazy with it.

Have you treated yourself to any new luxuries? I bought myself the most beautiful guitar, a Martin, made out of rosewood, from the ’70s. And it is divine. It never leaves my house, never even leaves my bedroom. I keep it underneath my bed!

Laura Marling

Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $15

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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