Martha Wainwright - I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S always great to see an artist go from strength to strength and surpass “the difficult second album” test with ease. Martha Wainwright arguably has it harder than most, hailing from a musical family that is virtually synonymous with continued success.
That she has delivered an album as brilliant as I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too is evidence of both her confidence and talent. It’s a lush, sonically ambitious and completely enchanting album that also displays a fine sense of humour – not to mention a wealth of supporting players.
First, the name. According to Martha: “The title sums up my dark humour. Plus, it’s an homage to a few good men and women that I’ve loved at one time or another. After all, these people never go away. You end up loving them for life.”
Second, the talent. Aside from family member contributions from brother Rufus (on In The Middle Of The Night), mother Kate McCarrigle, aunt Anna McGarrigle and first cousin Lily Lanken (See Emily Play), there’s also Who guitarist Pete Townshend (You Cheated On Me), The Band’s Garth Hudson (I Wish I Were), and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen (So Many Friends).
Now the highlights, of which there are many! Album opener Bleeding All Over You opens with a low-key backbeat and some lush acoustics, before unfolding into a dark love song that tackles an affair (“my heart was made for bleeding all over you” and “you’ve got a girlfriend but I can only talk about her for so long”). It’s beautifully composed.
Comin’ Tonight is steeped in country values and talks of a hotel liaison that perfectly showcases the dark humour Martha references, as well as dropping a lively chorus.
Pete Townshend’s guitar work provides a perfect accompaniment to Martha’s distinct vocals on You Cheated Me, a track that’s rife with anger, insecurity and doubt. The chorus, though, is as pop-friendly and melody strewn as anything on the album.
There’s a distinctly plaintive quality to the understated Hearts Club Band and a brooding, epic intensity to In The Middle Of The Night, in which Rufus crops up to deliver some effective vocal accompaniment.
Niger River is a shimmering, acoustic ballad that’s full of yearning (“what would I do if I can’t have you?”), while her cover of the Pink Floyd classic See Emily Play is couched in kooky psychedelia that’s warm, cheerful and really rather dreamy once Martha starts “aaah-ing”.
Final track I Wish I Were, meanwhile, strips things back to an acoustic guitar, some subtle piano and Martha’s evocative voice, to bring things to a mellow, reflective close.
In short, this is a cracking sophomore effort that firmly establishes Martha as a major songwriting force in her own right. It deserves to become a big success.
Download picks: Bleeding All Over You, You Cheated Me, See Emily Play