Martha's cigarettes-and-honey voice coats her songs with an honest, beautiful...
Hayley Myers 2005
If Natasha and Daniel Bedingfield hold the crown for being the most famous pop-siblings, it may well be time to relinquish it to a more intriguing musical dynasty. Martha Wainwright is the daughter of folk royalty Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and the sister of Rufus, that critically acclaimed purveyor of fine confessional songs. With a bloodline as promising as this, the self-titled debut from the 28-year-old has been long anticipated.
Martha Wainwright does not disappoint. She has taken the folk tradition she was raised alongside and added a twist of poetic attitude that is unique, refreshing and downright ballsy in parts. It's an album of contrasts, a collaboration of vulnerable laments and tracks of fiery confidence.
From the outset, Martha's cigarettes-and-honey voice coatsher songs with an honest, beautiful expression that seems to confess all. On opening track "Far Away", the heartfelt country-tinged vocal is meshed withshimmering Tori Amos-esque melancholy. The same thread is followed in "These Flowers" and "Don't Forget"; these are songs of optimism partially covering bitter realities, and it's passionate, heady and haunting stuff. In the former, the accompaniment of the piano, harp and resounding acoustic guitar makes music to break your heart - a true Tammy Wynette-style weepie!
But make no mistake - Martha has attitude. In "Ball And Chain" she courts sexual politics in a vitriolic way, with the acid-throated fervour of PJ Harvey. "Bloody Mother F***ing A**hole" is an eloquent tirade against her father's neglectful behaviour when she was growing up, and continues a family-trend (Rufus' "Dinner at Eight" and Kate McGarrigle's "Go Leave" are about Loudon, and are far from flattering). It is gut-wrenching stuff, with raspy vocals that constantly upset the balance between inner-strength and genuine heartbreak.
It's the story of her twenties, and you know she means every word; this is a record that easily stands up against - and apart from - the family tradition.