Martha Wainwright

Love Will Be Reborn

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Love Will Be Reborn Review

by Mark Deming

One thing you have to say for Martha Wainwright -- you never have to wonder what she's thinking. The woman who wrote a song about her own father called "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" is blessed with fearless honesty on a level few possess, and if she's less blunt on 2021's Love Will Be Reborn, the emotional roller coaster that informed these songs is audible from front to back. 2012's Come Home to Mama was a beautiful but harrowing album inspired by the death of her mother, the premature birth of her child, and a new marriage that was having more than its share of problems. Love Will Be Reborn feels like a partial follow up, as it was written and recorded in the wake of Wainwright's subsequent divorce, and she's willing to show us her scars if we're brave enough to look. Love Will Be Reborn doesn't wallow in anger or hopelessness, but Wainwright isn't afraid to clearly acknowledge them; the title tune weighs the need to believe that love and emotional healing will come again, though in reality she doesn't know how to make that happen, and most of these 11 songs mine similar territory. Pain and solace are the twin poles that guide these songs, and Wainwright's vocals capture a wealth of emotional detail; sounding a bit like Kate Bush without the comfort of fantasy to protect her, Wainwright rides over the melodies with a bold willingness to venture into the unexpected, and the dynamics of her voice as it weaves around the atmospheric arrangements is truly remarkable. And if "Hole in My Heart" largely deals with the heady excitement of new love, her look to the past not only complements the darker emotions of the present but offers prescient clues that she was too infatuated to ignore. Producer Pierre Marchand has given Wainwright all the room she needs to make herself understood while Thom Gill (on guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals), Josh Cole (on bass), and Phil Melanson (on drums) deliver accompaniment that's powerful and as efficient as it is atmospheric. One can only hope Martha Wainwright doesn't have to go through this much pain the next time she writes an album, but Love Will Be Reborn at least reminds us that she was able to build something remarkable out of all that chaos.

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