The second full-length from Alessi’s Ark confirms what her 2009 debut, Notes from the Treehouse, and her various EPs have indicated — that Alessi Laurent-Marke is a composer and performer who’s growing in startling leaps every day. Still only 20, she’s already a veteran performer, growing out of the MySpace generation to become a maverick satellite in London’s nu-folk scene (think Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling). There’s still a youthful innocence and freshness to her music, both in the gentle reflection of “Blanket,” yet she possess enough pop smarts to pen a piece like “Kind Of Man,” which is a little like Lily Allen without the snarky, über-hip attitude, or to putting in some sweet George Harrison/Badfinger-style slide guitar to glide out proceedings the end of “The Robot.”
But if there’s one song that acts as a real snapshot of the state of the Ark, it’s the aptly named “Must’ve Grown,” a reflection on moving from adolescence into adulthood set to the sound of a single electric guitar. Moving between the lyrical and the frantic, it’s only a short song, but very telling in the way she surveys the objects in her room that once seemed valuable but which are now history. The piece demonstrates her growing economy as a writer, with a touch for a winning melody (the deliciously soft “The Fever”) and a sly way with words. The one cover here, Lesley Gore’s helpless cheating boyfriend song “Maybe I Know,” sticks out in sharp contrast to the thoughtful, mature mood elsewhere: still a lovely piece of pop, but with none of the inner strength that typifies the rest of the disc. Still, that just shows how much Alessi’s Ark remains a work in progress, involved in the agonizingly slow Time Travel that’s called growing up.