TAKING CHARGE Martha Wainwright

The lady knows what she wants.

BY JAMIE GADETTE

 

If you’re at all
familiar with Martha Wainwright, you know her story: father Loudon Wainwright III
and mother Kate McGarrigle are folk icons; brother Rufus is an artist famous
and eccentric in his own right. Martha, well, she took a bit longer to join the
family business, and released her debut just three years ago.

 

That eponymous
breakthrough was a stunning, raging work-much more an exercise in catharsis
than her well-crafted follow-up, I Know
You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too
(Zoë). While still deeply
passionate and personal (there’s a track inspired by her new husband/producer
Brad Alberta and one for a departed friend), it seems this time around
Wainwright had a better sense of how to shape the record. “I wanted it to
be a little more produced than the last record,” she says, “so I wanted to find
that right person. But at the same time I 
didn’t want to let one sort of older guy, generally, take over and sort
of ejaculate on my record.”

 

Instead of messing
with one unruly ego, Martha hired several producers for the job-a move that
could have easily resulted in a sloppy sophomore slump. Instead, the album is
just loose enough to accommodate the singer’s unique delivery, which navigates
the sweeping space between sweet, fragile breathlessness and grizzled
salt-of-the-earth bravado. At times, it’s hard to believe Martha ever lacked
the confidence to take control.

 

“I always straddled
music in a really serious way, but I think that I was probably a bit insecure
and intimidated to really go for it as an artist,” she says, of her early years
playing New York
coffee shops and backing Rufus on his breakthrough shows. “On the first record,
there was a lot of baggage to overcome, whereas with this one I was just able
to go into the studio as an artist and a singer.”

 

 

 

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