Album: Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright, DROWNED IN SOUND
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The Independent Culture

Compared with her prodigal sibling Rufus - already five albums into his career - Martha Wainwright has taken an eternity to fulfil the destiny of her genes, waiting until her 28th year to deliver her debut album. Most second-generation performers - Rufus, Jakob Dylan, Adam Cohen, Chris Stills, Teddy Thompson, etc - have reached for the ring long before that. But the delay has worked in Martha's favour, allowing her to mature into a more rounded, confident personality with a distinctive vocal delivery. There's a wayward childish character to her inflection that brings a sort of louche Lolita charm to many of the songs here. At its best, this lends a Kate Bush feel to the musings on maturity and freedom in a song like "These Flowers", but it's a fine line she walks between that and "Ball And Chain", where the overwrought piano lends her commentary on oppressive sexual obsession a downbeat, melodramatic tone akin to Tori Amos. Assertiveness is a major issue, Martha freely admitting her pervasive sense of low self-esteem and her desire to escape others' constricting expectations - most compellingly on the furious "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole", which kicks against the overweening figure of her father, Loudon Wainwright III. Ironically, it's the track on which his astringent edge is most detectable in her own voice.

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