Release Date: Oct 16, 2012
Record label: Co-Operation
Genre(s): Folk, Alternative Folk
Martha Wainwright has never shied away from writing songs about the people closest to her. But it's one thing to reflect on adolescent tiffs with your parents, or berate errant lovers; another to address the early death of your mother and the effects on marriage or childbirth. Wainwright's vocals might be dressy but her thoughts are naked, heartbreakingly so on All Your Clothes, a graveside conversation with Kate McGarrigle.
Martha Wainwright is an artist who has absolutely no fear of emotional honesty, a quality that has long figured strongly in her work (not everyone has the nerve to record a song called "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" about their own semi-famous father), and she has plenty to open up about on her fifth album, Come Home to Mama. This is Wainwright's first set of original material since 2008, and since then she got married, had a child who was born 11 weeks premature, and struggled with the death of her mother, and not surprisingly, life's transitions dominate the songs here. Wainwright doesn't pull any punches in her songwriting; her songs about her marriage range from warts-and-all celebrations of her relationship ("Can You Believe It") to bittersweet admissions of defeat ("Some People"), and the closing song to her child, "Everything Wrong," may be the most harrowingly honest song addressed to one's offspring since Richard Thompson's "The End of the Rainbow.
From its title down, Martha Wainwright’s latest is haunted by the ghost of her mum, Kate McGarrigle. She’s a spectral vision “under the vines” in the echoing, confessional ‘All Your Clothes’, with Wainwright fretting over her belongings. She’s there again in family reminiscences as ‘Four Black Sheep’ shifts from strange electropop to stately piano cascades.
What’s a dramatic singer-songwriter got to do to get noticed if she’s Rufus Wainwright’s sister? After 2009’s live collection of Edith Piaf songs, Sans fusils, ni souliers, à Paris, the Lady Wainwright brought in twitchy producer/multi-instrumentalist Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto) and several of her friends (Sean Lennon, Jim White and Nels Cline) to execute a vexingly atmospheric sound; more provocative and aggressive yet theatrical than any full album the moody Martha has executed to date. Brava. .
There's a moment midway through "Proserpina", the centerpiece of Martha Wainwright's third studio album, Come Home to Mama, where a choir takes up the refrain: "Proserpina, Proserpina, go home to your mother, go home to Hera," and then Wainwright looses a wail and the song becomes devastating. "Proserpina" is the last song Wainwright's mother Kate McGarrigle wrote before dying of cancer, and it was first heard a performance at the Royal Albert Hall by McGarrigle in December of 2009, just weeks before her death. For a show all parties involved knew was final, it's jarring how composed McGarrigle sounds, relishing every detail of wicked underground husbands and famine-wracked earth.
Canadian-American singer-songwriter and all-around hyphenated artist Martha Wainwright’s third studio album, Come Home To Mama, drops and soars emotionally. Here’s an artist who can write. The full-length mostly follows a theme: pain of a heartily tangled, fading relationship. Married for five years and mother to a toddler, one may deduce that she’s writing from a perspective other than her own.
I remember Martha when she began her career by riding in on the coattails of her much more famous older brother (Rufus) and fairly famous musical parents’ music careers (Anna & Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright, respectively). Fortunately for her, she was monumentally talented that having to sit through her opening set before the main attraction (usually Rufus Wainwright) came on was never a chore. Her charismatic approach to the yearning love song left you mesmerized as she’d twist her leg and sing up to the sky as if pleading with God to finally give her what she wanted/needed.
With her third full studio album Come Home to Mama, the younger of music's most beige siblings (Wainwright is the younger sister of musician Rufus Wainwright) since Oasis continues to settle nicely into Canada's throne of easy-listening bland-pop vacated all those years ago now by Shania Twain. Inoffensiveness remains Martha Wainwright's byword; she is far less grating than her predecessor's faux-country schtick, and the good news for her fans is that this latest offering is her strongest and most interesting record yet. .
Martha Wainwright comes from a long line of musicians, and their influence shows on her third solo album, Come Home to Mama. The daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, as well as the sister of Rufus, Wainwright has finally recorded an album as thoughtful and artistic as her roots. It’s clear from opener “I Am Sorry”, with its seductive, sustained vocal holds, that Wainwright’s songwriting is now keeping pace with her vocal talent.
Since her arresting self-titled debut of 2005, Martha Wainwright has continued to captivate and baffle by turns. This third outing was recorded with Yuka C Honda, formerly of New York quirk-pop outfit Cibo Matto, and the resulting sonics are engagingly offbeat. The songs, meanwhile, tackle the passing of the baton of motherhood following the birth of Wainwright's son and the death of her mother, Kate McGarrigle.
"Can we pretend we're talking?" asks Martha Wainwright on her new album's standout track, 'All Your Clothes'. "I thought I could donate your clothes to a theatre / Where they would make up a wardrobe of a great play of characters," she whispers over a heartbeat rhythm on a lyric that captures an imagined conversation between Wainwright and her late mother, Kate McGarrigle. It's an utterly heartbreaking listen but a joyously beautiful song that perfectly encapsulates Wainwright's best album to date.
Martha Wainwright was desperately in need of a course correction after 2008’s “I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too,” which found her adrift as she forced her gifts into the mold of a run-of-the-middle adult-contemporary singer-songwriter. Having gotten an Édith Piaf tribute (and a baby) out of her system since, she reorients herself admirably with “Come Home to Mama.” With her bruised, often feather-light voice seeking out any perch it can grasp, songs like “All Your Clothes” and “Everything Wrong” hew more closely to the folk-based (but not folk-bounded) emotional probings and crepuscular glow of her debut. And then there’s “Proserpina,” in which Wainwright takes on the myth of Ceres.
The Canadian-American singer has realised her best record to date. Martin Aston 2012 The Wainright-McGarrigles are the family that just keep giving. And given the mainstream appeal of brother Rufus’ most recent album Out of the Game and this fourth album from Martha, they want to give to as many folk as possible. Much has changed chez Martha in recent years – marriage, motherhood and the death of her mother Kate McGarrigle.
Much has changed in the life of Martha Wainwright in the four years since last album ‘I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too’; years marked by emotional upheaval and life-changing events. And, unsurprisingly, those feelings and emotions manifest themselves in third album ‘Come Home To Mama’, a record of staggering honesty and, sometimes, crushingly emotive power.The death of Wainwright’s mother, Kate McGarrigle, from cancer in 2010 provides much of the emotion at the centre of the album. The other overriding lyrical influence is the birth of her first child in 2009.
Martha Wainwright’s Come Home to Mama, released in 2012 on SOCAN/ASCAP, is disappointing from such a talented artist. “I Wanna Make an Arrest”, like other tracks such as “I am Sorry”, “Leave Behind” and “Can You Believe” are not lyrically working. Wainwright’s voice does not match the songwriting or the music here. In “All Your Clothes”, the timing and songwriting attempt thoughtful musical precision.