Financial Times on Pete and Rach with Martha

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Mon Aug 20 06:30:39 CDT 2007

Martha Wainwright
By Richard Clayton 
Published: August 19 2007 16:26 | Last updated: August 19 2007 16:26

"How's your father?" comes the inevitable inquiry from a wag in the crowd – Martha Wainwright being first daughter of Loudon, wayward paterfamilias of the Canadian-American folk, rock and baroque-pop clan that's treated us to soapy plot lines for 30 years. "My father's fine. He'll be walking me down the aisle in a couple of weeks. How's your father?" she replies, sassily.

As a performer, Wainwright has been the bridesmaid more often than the bride lately. She stole the show at brother Rufus's Judy Garland concert while dressed to the nines as a forces sweetheart spurned, and shared the limelight with Zenaida Yanowsky in a muddled version of The Seven Deadly Sins, Brecht/Weill's tricky "sung ballet", at the Royal Opera House. It's slightly strange, but very welcome, to see her centre-stage. Versatile and brave, her voice piercingly vengeful or pent-up imploring to order, she is the Wainwrights' true drama queen (quite an accolade, given the competition).

Tonight, her imminent marriage to bass player Brad Albetta has put a spring in her step. And hanging out with the Royal Ballet has perhaps encouraged her to try moves of her own. Wainwright kicks at the ground like a headstrong mare, so vigorously that she must check her creamy halterneck dress hasn't suffered a wardrobe malfunction. Such levity also extends to the songs she test-drives from her next album, due in January. The subject matter might be "as morose as the last one" but the settings are decidedly rockier. Working with KT Tunstall's producer, Martin Terefe, it would be just like Martha to achieve a commercial breakthrough with her second effort when it took Rufus five attempts.

Like Rufus, she has celebrity friends, and The Who's Pete Townshend (along with his singer-songwriter girlfriend, Rachel Fuller, on piano) join her for "This Life", "Factory" and the infamous song to Daddy dearest, "Bloody Motherf***ing Asshole". Townshend plays acoustic and then electric guitar parallel to his knees but is largely inaudible in the mix. Such is the power of Wainwright's vocal that she is best when accompanied least. A torch-song intensity burns through "Don't Forget" and the French chanson, "Dis, quand reviendras-tu?", which is when her lead role most delivers on the promise of those starry cameos. 

-Brian in Atlanta 
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