Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright
Martha Wainwright
Consider her background: daughter of folk musicians Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, sister to the prodigiously talented Rufus Wainwright. It’s a wonder she didn’t publish a bitter and envious memoir instead. Yet over the course of three EPs, as well as contributing live and recorded backup vocals for her brother, Martha Wainwright has ever-so-slowly unveiled her talents as a gifted songwriter and passionate singer in her own right. Holding to this promise with a mixture of unbridled abandon and exquisite restraint, her full-length debut displays a confident and adventurous spirit. Alternating between topics of self-exploration and unrequited love, Wainwright balances mysterious, abstract imagery (“green grass blades are all on fire/high on the crack that’s in the wind”) with stripped and intimate details (“bend me over the back of the car seat/take me down to Easy Street”). Each of the 13 tracks encompass a range of eclectic styles. “Far Away” channels the spirit of Leonard Cohen in its steady progression from breezy whisper to lush atmospherics, complete with swelling chorals, piano and guitar while “GPT” and “When the Day is Short” inhabit their pop-rock skins with considerable ease. But the real showcase is Wainwright’s voice. Alternating between a sweet coo and a harrowing moan, the seething intensity of “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” hinges upon her ability to simultaneously express vulnerability and outright defiance. Although broken hearts abound, these are not torch songs that are reduced to the histrionics of a high school confessional. This is a poetic meditation on life in all its messy and ardent splendour.
—Todd Chapman
categories: Canadian artist,Juno nominee (2006)

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