Martha Wainwright: Goodnight City review – uplifting and powerful

(PIAS)

Martha Wainwright’s first three albums run the gamut from intense confessionals and tasteful torch songs to electropop. Here, she paints from an even wider musical palette on a single album, experimenting with everything from lush, synth-and-saxophone pop to Patti Smith-type punk. Unusually, half the songs are penned by (or are collaborations with) friends and relatives, but Wainwright treats every one as if it were her own. Vocal gymnastics are used to convey emotion, rather than for effect, and as a result, stylistically very different songs from the likes of Beth Orton and Tune-Yards hang together perfectly. Look Into My Eyes (co-written with her aunt, Anna McGarrigle) and Francis (by brother Rufus) are sublime, but any concern that the number of writers involved is because of creative block is dispelled by the strength of Wainwright’s own compositions. Window and Traveller are upliftingly powerful. Superb country opener Around the Bend finds her convincingly adopting the persona of a drug-addled lover, while Franci gloriously turns adorational love into surging, epic pop.

Contributor

Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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