What a difference three years made for Martha Wainwright.
When her self-titled debut came out in 2005, the singer-songwriter unleashed a barrage of songs dealing with anguish, pain and finding her feet in the world. For her newly released follow-up, I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too, Wainwright proffers the complete opposite: Boldness, brashness and confidence.
“This record, like my first record, is a reflection of the time in which it was made,” Wainwright tells Metro. “The subject matter in my songwriting can be morose, and sometimes bloody and gross — always pushing the envelope.
“I just didn’t want to be self-indulgent this time. The music is still very intense, the singing is still very intense. But I also think you need to counterbalance that with a bit of a sense of humour and some lightness. I’m having a lot of fun now and there’s a lot more joy in my life.”
Much of that joy, she says, stems from her marriage last fall to her bass player Brad Albetta, who also produced Wainwright’s debut and much of the new disc.
But she also attributes her newfound confidence to gaining her own loyal fan following, a separate entity from being the sister of Rufus Wainwright.
“At one time I was probably intimidated and afraid that there wasn’t room for me in the music world,” the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based 32-year-old says, “and there wasn’t enough room in the room to handle two Wainwrights (Rufus and me). Of course that’s a pretentious thing to believe.”
Backing family members on the road did help, nonetheless. And through those family members came some rather high-profile connections, which Wainwright utilized on album No. 2: Steely Dan keyboardist Donald Fagen, who contributes a chilling synthesizer to So Many Friends; The Band’s Garth Hudson, whose keyboards grace I Wish I Were; and Pete Townshend — yes, The Who axeman and songsmith — heard playing understated guitar to You Cheated Me and Comin’ Tonight.
“I met him a couple of years ago. He and his girlfriend (Rachel Fuller) invited me on to their online talk show, In The Attic,” Wainwright says. “Half an hour later, I found myself … where they tape this show, playing my songs in a pair of pyjamas that they had given me. And he was accompanying me on a couple of songs.”