Martha Wainwright : Come Home To Mama
When it comes to family, Martha Wainwright is not one to keep her emotions to herself. Few artists would pen a song about their dad’s parenting skills and call it Bloody Motherfucking Asshole, though the Wainwrights are hardly an ordinary family. There’s a little less poison in the pen for Martha Wainwright’s third album of original material, a collection that comes in the wake of the birth of her son and the death of her mother, Kate McGarrigle.
The more personal Wainwright gets, the more powerful the effect. The close of Come Home To Mama is a total tear-jerker, with All Your Clothes picking through the wardrobe of a recently deceased parent and Everything Wrong drawing on this same sense of loss and applying it to the fears and anxiety of new parenthood. The highlight, though, is Proserpina, a classical myth about the separation of a mother and daughter, and the last song to be penned by McGarrigle.
What makes this Wainwright’s strongest album is not just the power of these ballads, but the quality of the more lighthearted material. Can You Believe It builds up to its sing-along chorus with some brilliant self-effacing lyrics, such as the opening “I really like the make-up sex/It’s the only kind I ever get.” The lyrics of Radio Star are absolute nonsense but the playful tempo shifts make it sing. Maybe it all wears a bit thin by the time the disposable disco-funk of I Wanna Make An Arrest rolls in, but this is, by a nose, Wainwright’s most consistent collection. The more uptempo numbers keep it all in balance, but also heighten the heart-pulling effect of her slower, sadder songs.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
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