Personnel include: Martha Wainwright (vocals, guitar); Rufus Wainwright (vocals); Brad Albetta (electric guitar, bass instrument, programming); Cameron Greider (electric guitar); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Joe McGinty, Tom Mennier (piano, keyboards); Jeff Hill (bass instrument); Bill Dobrow (drums); Lily Lanken (background vocals).
Recording information: Monkey Boy, New York, NY.
As the daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and the sister of Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright comes from quite a musical family. This self-titled debut album makes good on the promise of her pedigree, with elements of her parents' folk-based singer/songwriter-isms, and her brother's flair for impassioned delivery and the occasional dramatic flourish. Yet Wainwright builds her own branch on the family tree, with richly detailed songs that display a great expressive range, packing images and incisive reflections into melodies that are whimsical, haunting, and memorable, often all at once.
The plaintive, desperate scenes of "Far Away" float along on a languid, dreamy melody a la the Beatles, mirroring songs like "Factory," in which lyrics full of paranoid anxiety are couched in expansive tunes and lush instrumentation. Even at her most tender, as on "These Flowers" or the country-inflected "When the Day Is Short," Wainwright offers up razor-sharp observations that reveal sadness, tough-mindedness, and vulnerability. Guitars, pianos, and light percussion lift Wainwright's superb songs, adding texture that's never distracting. MARTHA WAINWRIGHT is a distinctive and deeply affecting addition to her family's impressive musical catalogue.
What the critics say...
Uncut (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A] record packed with brilliant, bohemian songs that combine affecting lyrical honesty, beguiling melodies and a voice that has a touch of Alanis Morissette mixed with a gentler inheritance from her mother and aunt..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.108) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Soothing, strident or Joplin-raw by turns, her voice pilots unchained melodies, and healthy, intergenerational competition with her own flesh and blood has clearly pushed her to burnish her detailed confessionals."