I know what you’re thinking, so let me immediately address the two questions on everyone’s mind. Yes, this is Rufus’ little sis. No, she is not riding his coattails. The girl can actually sing, and man, does she sound pretty.
“Far Away” begins the album giving the listener a good idea of what Martha’s croon is capable of. Following “G.P.T.” shows us that she also has melody on her side. Songs like the generic “Ball and Chain” are wasted on this CD but there are plenty more hits than misses (as is often the case with her bro). Throughout her self titled debut you’ll hear sprinkles of Rufus (jabs at her father and others close to her personal life, et cetera). Martha tells melancholic stories like her brother while making all of them sound melodic and, well, like a ballad. But you can’t blame her; they’re siblings for Christ’s sake. If anything I wish that she would have upped the emotional trauma a little bit more (as Rufus so flamboyantly does with his falsetto). A lot of the time the record stays lukewarm but there are enough satisfying melodies and sections of beautiful singing that all can be forgiven. Sometimes full of piss and vinegar (“Ball and Chain”) and other times sweet and welcoming, Wainwright is more eclectic than most may think.
It’s easy to forgive artists when they are being this honest. There’s no bullshit or pretense here (coughnewsomecough). Just like the album cover, Martha stare’s us in the face with these songs and makes no apologies. She’s not putting on a show for anyone, and with a song title like “Bloody Mother F***ing A**hole” I’ll let this girl tell me how it is any day of the week. A solid solo debut.
- Andrew Iliadis