Who: Laura Marling is an 18-year-old singer/songwriter who also works with bands such as Noah and the Whale (who are currently sitting in the Top 10 in the Charts, with a little help from her)
What: "Alas, I Cannot Swim" is a collection of modern folk songs mainly focusing on love and heartbreak, as most of the albums coming out from new young things generally are these days
Why: To be honest, she seems more wrapped up in her side-projects to take her own solo work seriously! It was a shock entry in a way because so many people expected the Mystery Jets (whose album Laura provides vocals for, surprise surprise) to make the list. Her inclusion probably means that the prize is looking to give awards to people who perhaps are a bit different and break outside the indie mould. However, my personal feeling is that she just can't sing! She has a girly but weak voice that rarely strays outside the framework of a few simple notes. It also grates after a while. If she wins the prize it will be more for her songwriting skills and the arrangement of the music on the album rather than her skill as a singer.