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You’d be mad to miss Wainwright

Martha Wainwright: Playing the Byron Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2. PHOTO: Contributed
Martha Wainwright: Playing the Byron Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2. PHOTO: Contributed

RAW, intense and angry is how Martha Wainwright describes the songs on her latest album, 2012's Come Home to Mama - a work written shortly after the death of her mother, folk legend Kate McGarrigle.

The recording showed a marked step away from her earlier sound, mainly because Wainwright brought on board Yuka Honda, from the quirky New York combo Cibo Matto, as producer.

The album's pop sensibility is more like the kind of music she listened to when she was young, says the 37-year-old, who is playing Byron soon.

"Of course I'm influenced by Bob Dylan and the McGarrigle sisters and Loudon Wainwright and Leonard Cohen. But I also listened to pop music as a teenager, and new wave and punk," she said. "This is the kind of music that I don't do because, you know, when you have an acoustic guitar and you play by yourself …

"But while I was writing the songs for this record, I thought, okay, this is going to be a morbid album about my mother dying, and a lot of the songs that came out of me were angry, with weird chords, a bit apocalyptic, and I realised that while they were good on the guitar, they were asking for something else.

"And I knew that Yuka could do that, that she'd take it somewhere that was out there."

As to setting sad songs in an upbeat setting: "You have to do what the music dictates. I found myself banging on the guitar and stamping my foot faster and faster as I was writing the songs, and I realised that was what needed to happen.

"There was also a desperation to want to make a lot of noise. It's been four years since my last album of original songs and I wanted to jump out … I've always had that unhinged element."

Wainwright brings her glorious unhinged sound to the Byron Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2.

You'd be mad to miss her.


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