Drowned in Sound Recordings – 2005 – 49 minutes
Given Martha Wainwright's lineage – she's the daughter of singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and the sister of Rufus – it's surprising that she left it so late – she's now 28 – to release an album, but her late arrival is more than made up for by this stunning debut.
Wainwright's presence is immediately felt on the haunting 'Far Away', her unusual, folksy voice really making an impact on 'GPT' and the rousing 'Factory'. Her fiery spirit and tendency towards dramatics are evident, but it's her rage that really grabs you.
'Ball and Chain' is a bitter tirade against men who treat women as objects, while 'Bloody Mother...' is a furious rant against her father's disparaging of her wish to enter the music industry. Her focus is very bleak on 'This Life', where she contemplates suicide, but she is always vivacious and compelling to listen to.
Part of the charm of Wainwright's first collection is its diversity: 'When The Day Is Short' and 'The Maker' are up-tempo folk/country tracks, while 'These Flowers' is a wistful ballad. There's even a choral version of Robert Louis Stevenson's travel song 'Whither Must I Wander' to end the album on a melancholic note.
Let's hope we're not waiting too long for Martha's follow up.
Tracklisting: Far Away – GPT – Factory – These Flowers – Ball and Chain – Don't Forget – This Life – When The Day Is Short – Bloody Mother... – TV Show – The Maker – Who Was I Kidding – Whither Must I Wander