If the mood strikes her and she has a pen in hand, Martha Wainwright will write about pretty much any aspect of her life. And if you happen to be in her orbit at the time, chances are you’ll end up in there, too.
“I like to shock people,” Wainwright said of her songs, which are almost exclusively written in the first-person.
“Sometimes I embellish things to make them more interesting. I don’t want to shock in an obvious way, but I do like to be a little bit subversive or a little bit tongue-in-cheek, or dangerously close to being too revealing. Some people appreciate that. And it’s a way to get people’s attention.”
Wainwright has made her reputation over the past decade and a half by being an indie-pop provocateur — the type of raw-nerve writer who titled a song about her father Bloody Mother F---ing A--hole and her 2008 album I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too.
The daughter of the late Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, she comes from what is considered singer-songwriter royalty.
Over the years, the 36-year-old played extensively with her older brother, Grammy winning singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, appearing alongside him on his previous two Victoria concerts.
She has never played a proper show of her own in Victoria, however — or in many other Canadian markets, for that matter.
Her current tour, which includes a sold-out appearance Sunday in Victoria, is breaking new ground for the Montreal native.
“I really wanted to try and get to as many places as I could with this album,” Wainwright said Monday. “Record sales are down, so it’s a whole different thing. The idea of connecting by doing these shows is going directly to the fans, to get people out and to get new fans.”
Finding fans has never been a problem for Wainwright. Keeping them has proven to be a slightly tougher task, given the erratic manner in which she releases her recordings.
The style and pattern of her releases — original recordings interspersed between tribute records and EPs released on a variety of imprints — hasn’t made professional life a breeze for Wainwright. But she can’t think of another, more organized way to nurture that side of her personality.
“I think it’s a reflection of what I am. I am not the consistent type of artist who is going to make a record every two years that is going to sound similar. I have a sound because of my singing voice and songwriting style — which is pretty identifiable — but my nature is to jump all over the place a little bit.”
Wainwright arrived like a shot in 2005 with her self-titled debut. It had all the makings of a classic, including the aforementioned, expletive-laden track directed in anger squarely at her father. It also featured cameos from her cousin Lily Lanken, brother and mother, who was diagnosed with cancer not long after the album’s release.
McGarrigle eventually died of the disease on Jan. 18, 2010.
As expected, Wainwright took the loss extremely hard.
Her grieving process produced (in part) a moving new album of songs, Come Home To Mama, a song cycle centered around the impact of mothers and the relationship they have with their children.
Wainwright included songs about mothering her own son, Arcangelo, who was born prematurely in late 2009 — three months before the death of her mother.
That an album of songs affected by her mother’s death (she included Proserpina, a song written by her mother but never recorded) arrived so soon afterwards surprised even Wainwright, who admits to being a notoriously slow songwriter.
“I’m not terribly prolific, because some of the songs are kind of complicated. I don’t look at my life as a songwriter, in the sense that I don’t see everything as something I can put on [a] page. That’s unfortunate, because I would be an oiled machine if I did.”
Patience is one of the bigger virtues in her arsenal, according to Wainwright. She has the desire to record and release albums more regularly, but she’s hesitant to put a time limit on her inspiration.
“That has informed the songs I do write, because I talk about daily life in some of them, or reflect on issues with relationships. The only way to be able to talk about those things is to live them, spend some time with them.”
When: Sunday, 8 p.m.
Where: St. Ann’s Academy Auditorium (835 Humboldt St.)
Tickets: Sold out
© Copyright 2013