Alessi's Ark is the brainchild of Alessi Laurent-Marke, a British songbird whose lilting, folk-tinged songs helped propel her from MySpace's inner circle to the roster of Virgin Records. Laurent-Marke began pursuing a songwriting career at the age of 16, having appeased her parents with a promise to return to school if nothing happened within one year's time. Virgin signed the budding musician on the spot, however, and Laurent-Marke promptly decamped to Nebraska to hone her skills with the help of Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott (two-thirds of the indie folk outfit Bright Eyes). Mogis and Walcott provided the backing for Laurent-Marke's debut EP, The Horse, which paired her sparse fairy-tale ballads with flashes of orchestral pop. A full-length album, Notes from the Treehouse, followed in early 2009.
Although she found a fair amount of success and a collection of devoted fans after the release of her debut, Laurent-Marke left the major-label pressures of Virgin for the talent-generating climes of Bella Union. Her first release on the label was the Soul Proprietor EP in 2010. A year later her first full-length on the indie label, Time Travel, arrived and saw Laurent-Marke developing her considerable storytelling talent. She then decamped to America for her third album and worked with another Conor Oberst-affiliated producer, Andy LeMaster (Azure Ray, Drive-By Truckers), in his Atlanta, Georgia studio. Entitled The Still Life, the record was released in 2013. Returning four years later with a new producer in Jag Jago (the Maccabees) and a more pop-oriented, synth-based approach, Laurent-Marke delivered her fourth LP, Love Is the Currency, in October 2017. ~ Andrew Leahey