-- The secret weapon in the Wainwright family, Martha is a wicked and potent genealogical branch bearing her father Loudon's sometimes uncomfortably honest confessional songwriting, her brother..." />
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Review: Martha Wainwright, 'Come Home to Mama'

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marthamama.jpgMartha Wainwright, "Come Home to Mama" (Cooperative) 3<br />
and a half stars -- The secret weapon in the Wainwright family, Martha is a wicked and potent genealogical branch bearing her father Loudon's sometimes uncomfortably honest confessional songwriting, her brother Rufus' occasional grandiose musical ambitions and her mother Kate McGarrigle's talent for modernizing and enlivening old, staid folk traditions.

Recorded at Sean Lennon's home studio and produced by Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda (and featuring guests such as Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Dirty Three drummer Jim White), "Come Home to Mama," Wainwright's third outing (fourth, if you count the knock-down awesome Piaf record), is also a blend -- of the singer-songwritery angst of her 2005 debut and the rock leanings of 2008's "I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too."

"I really like make-up sex / It's the only kind I ever get," she sing-songs in "Can You Believe It," like a forlorn-yet-upbeat mix of Cat Power and Liz Phair. The album's title comes from the ballad "Proserpina," the last song McGarrigle had written before her death in 2010. The ache of that recording (its lyrics, as well as its circumstances), the confidence of her voice (her tone, as well as her words), the wisdom in "Everything Wrong" and the bright flair of "Some People" -- everything seems finally to come together into what must be Wainwright's first singular album.


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Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.

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