The time is now for Martha Wainwright. With her guitar leveled at the audience, legs akimbo and hair tousled in the spotlight, Martha looks and sounds every inch a star in the making.
Part ingénue, part punkster, strong and vulnerable all at once, with a hugely expressive voice and an arsenal of powerful songs, Martha is a beguiling entertainer and a refreshingly different, new force in music.
Martha is the daughter of folk legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and sister of acclaimed singer songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Born in New York City and raised in Montreal, she spent her childhood immersed in music and often performing with her parents. She took the first step in her own recording career in 1998 when she contributed her song "Year of the Dragon" to her mother and aunt's album The McGarrigle Hour. The same year she started singing back-up for her brother both live and on record. As she wryly jokes: "I had no classical training, but I had angst and heartbreak and fantastic music all around me. What more could I need?"
After leaving her college early, Martha moved to New York City and distinguished herself almost immediately. Her strong sense of individuality as well as her direct emotional and lyrical appeal helped her develop a devoted following with the city's singer-songwriter scene.
"Part of the reason the album has taken so long to come together is that I wanted the right producer, a producer that would reflect me and what I wanted to say and do with the music." In the end the album was produced by Martha and New York-based producer Brad Albetta in Brad's downtown studio over a period of a year and a half. The end result, her self-titled debut album Martha Wainwright (released April 12, 2005 by MapleMusic Recordings) is a testament to her burning creativity, determination and strength of character.
And yet the emotional world Martha describes in her music is one of personal uncertainty and emotional fracture. Her songs are unswervingly honest about her own insecurities and fears. Fears about her own talent, her place as a woman in relationship to men and love in general. As she herself observes, "When I write I feel simultaneously conscious and able but also frightened, like I'm flying without a safety net. It feels like a wild thing. My songs deal with pain and a lot of personal suffering, but I think ultimately my strength comes through in my performance and my voice."
Martha Wainwright follows the 2004 release in the United Kingdom and the recent American release of her debut EP, Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole. The response to BMFA was immediate and landed Martha on many year end lists. In the January 2005 issue of Mojo Norah Jones listed her as one of the "best things she heard all year." London's Sunday Times included "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" in their songs of the year alongside tracks by Modest Mouse and Gwen Stefani and Rolling Stone called BMFA "a blistering prelude to her debut album."
A dynamic performer, Martha performed as part of the acclaimed Leonard Cohen tribute concert in May 2004 at Brighton's Dome Concert Hall. Her rendition of the Cohen classic "Tower of Song," won accolades from both London's The Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Martha also joined her brother on his fall 2004 UK dates to rapt audiences and has supported artists such as Cyndi Lauper and Van Morrison in North America over the last year.
Martha recently took a turn performing on film in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio in which she portrays a sultry torch singer. Her song "I'll Be Seeing You" was added to the film's soundtrack. Martha also contributed two songs to the soundtrack of American independent film P.S. starring Laura Linney and directed by Dylan Kidd (Rodger Dodger).
Martha Wainwright is wonderfully varied and meshes elements of rock, folk, country and chanson singing. The 13 tracks including the anthemic and cathartic "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole", "The Maker" featuring Rufus on backing vocals, the compelling "Factory," and first single "When The Day Is Short" are sure to bring Martha the wider recognition she deserves.
Undoubtedly her own person, with her own sense of style, Martha creates her own music with an extraordinary versatile and compelling voice.
Live On Stage:
I really don't know anything about Martha (other then her musical family) or her music, but randomly pick this tune and really dug it - here she is performing "When The Day Is Short"....
NPR did a live broadcast of Martha's set when she opened for Neko Case last year (which you can either stream or download) - head here.
From the few songs that I've heard in putting this post together I'm really digging what I'm hearing. Here's a video for "When The Day Is Short" off her self-titled album....
These are some more live performances since I can't seem to find any other music videos....
Martha on The Late Show Performing "When The Day Is Short"
"Far Away" Live From The Pabst Theater - 3/30/06
Want to find out more about Martha hit up her official website.
Saturday, April 21, 2007