Tuesday Music: Martha Wainwright

Martha Wainwright's self-titled CD.

As we have a plethora of really great music people here at NPR who are far hipper and better informed than I am (admittedly, not hard) and we want to feature new music on the blog, this week I turned to Robin Hilton, who produces All Songs Considered, to point us to something good. Definitely worth listening to.

I get around 400 CDs a week from labels and independent artists hoping we'll give them some coverage. It's overwhelming, but I listen to bits and pieces of everything. I read several music magazines, blogs and music newsletters and try to keep up with the latest releases. Even so, it's inevitable I'll miss something.

One album I completely missed when it came out last year was the self-titled debut release from Martha Wainwright, the sister of cabaret-pop singer Rufus Wainwright and daughter of folk artists Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle. While very talented people, I've never felt much of a connection with any of their music, so when Martha joined the fold with her own work, I didn't take much notice.

This spring, NPR Music and All Songs Considered webcast a live concert by Neko Case, with an opening performance by Martha Wainwright. It gave me an opportunity to revisit Martha's solo CD and I was stunned by what I heard. Her voice is so mournful; her melodies beautiful but sad; and her lyrics, inspired poetry. The instrumentation is spare, but warm and fully realized. The whole album is really a work of art; but the song that's been playing over and over in my head — the song that just broke my heart — is "Don't Forget" (audio).

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