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Curtain call for Martha; Coming soon: Martha Wainwright.

Byline: Andrew Pain reports

SINGER/songwriters are meant to trade in whimsical pleasures, in the soft strums of a guitar, in worlds so delicate and small they could shatter at a single touch.

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT doesn't trade alongside them.

Back with a second record that's both tender and tough, beautiful and brutal, and simmering with invention and confidence, Martha (pictured right) forgot to read the rulebook.

Either that, or she set all its pages aflame, strutted through the smoke, and emerged burnt and brave.

"I'm as happy as hell," she says. "Because I've learned what I'm good at and I've learned what I'm not good at.

"I've learned to look back at the people I've loved and I've lost, but also to look at the world outside myself.

And I've got the confidence to stand up there and do that at last."

It's been three busy years since Martha released her eponymous debut album of confessional, fearless songs. In that time, she's had a lot to be happy about. She's toured her songs internationally many times, watching them sweep up acclaim and awards with every flight ticket. She's made music with The Who's Pete Townshend, Damon Albarn's Africa Express, Antony Hegarty and Snow Patrol, with whom she scored a top 20 hit.

She married producer Brad Albetta, and brother Rufus, mother Kate McGarrigle, father Loudon Wainwright, Linda Thompson, Emmylou Harris and Ed Harcourt sang at their wedding.

She covered Leonard Cohen's songs for the film I'm Your Fan, performed Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins with the Royal Ballet Company, and sang Pink Floyd's See Emily Play with her mother at a Syd Barrett tribute - a song she liked so much she's included it on her record.

Though Martha's musical happiness has grown, her fans shouldn't worry that their sharp-tongued girl with her heart on her sleeve (and her mind and her spleen and her guts and her bile) has gone away.

After all, her album's called I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too. What's more, it's a lyric from the album's opening song, the powerfully-titled Bleeding All Over You.

"The title sums up my dark humour," she insists. "Plus it's a 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."

Martha will be bringing all her songs from her varied performing career thus far to the Empire in Middlesbrough on Thursday, October 23. Tickets priced pounds 16 are available from the box-office on 01642 253553.

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT: Empire, M'bro Thursday, Oct 23 Entry: pounds 16
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 12, 2008
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