Tiny Desk

Martha Wainwright

Download Audio

14 min 15 sec

Martha Wainwright's songs examine uncomfortable moments and life experiences gone wrong, but as she acknowledges in between songs at this Tiny Desk Concert, she often has to fudge her own life story to make the details more unsettling. ("Take everything with a grain of salt," she says, "except the good stuff.") What she does is the opposite of sugarcoating: She roughs up life's smooth spots, then digs her fingertips into the cracks that form.

Wainwright's new album, Come Home to Mama, addresses her place on the continuum between her late mother (singer Kate McGarrigle) and her young son — particularly in the wrenching and insightful "Everything Wrong," a ballad Wainwright calls "my first song about motherhood." That song closes both Come Home to Mama and this concert in the NPR Music offices, and it's tremendous: raw and almost painfully intimate, wonderfully humane and ultimately hopeful.

Martha Wainwright is the second member of her family to play the Tiny Desk in the last few months, following in the footsteps of her brother Rufus. Their father, Loudon Wainwright III, released a marvelous record near the beginning of this year, so is completing the family trifecta too much to ask? Consider this an invitation.

Set List
  • "Some People"
  • "Can You Believe It?"
  • "Everything Wrong"
Credits

Producer: Stephen Thompson; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks; photo by Ryan Smith/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Shamir Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Shamir

The singer's disco-infused funk and soul gets stripped down to a lone voice with a guitar.

Tiny Desk Concert with Paul Weller. Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Paul Weller

See the beloved Britpop veteran perform songs from his new album, Saturns Pattern.

Tiny Desk Concert with Kate Tempest. Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Kate Tempest

A celebrated English playwright and rapper deploys storytelling and poetry.

Tiny Desk Concert with Songhoy Blue Lani Milton /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton /NPR

Tiny Desk

Songhoy Blues

See a Malian band that fuses African music with Western rock.

Tiny Desk Concert with Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad of Girlpool. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR

Tiny Desk

Girlpool

The charming duo performs three of the simple, direct songs from Before The World Was Big.

Tiny Desk Concert with Christopher Paul Stelling. Morgan McCloy/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Morgan McCloy/NPR

Tiny Desk

Christopher Paul Stelling

Best witnessed live, Stelling's music is steeped in tradition yet filled with vitality and soul.

Tiny Desk Concert with And The Kids. Morgan McCloy/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Morgan McCloy/NPR

Tiny Desk

And The Kids

The trio's music is full of life, with dissonant sounds that still feel suited for singalongs.

Tiny Desk Concert with Oddisee Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

Tiny Desk

Oddisee

The charismatic Brooklyn-via-D.C.-area rapper creates just the right amount of space in his music.

Tiny Desk Concert with Hop Along. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR

Tiny Desk

Hop Along

Frances Quinlan's raspy voice whispers one moment, then lets loose a gut-punching howl the next.

Tiny Desk Concert with Timothy Showalter, songwriter and producer of Strand of Oaks. Maggie Starbard /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Maggie Starbard /NPR

Tiny Desk

Strand Of Oaks

Timothy Showalter's music is filled with bite and sometimes regret, but also a good deal of warmth.

Back To Top