Sloan Wainwright,
Upside Down & Under My Heart
(independent, 2013)

It appears that those Wainwrights just won't quit coming. Let's do a quick inventory: we've got Loudon, his son Rufus and daughter Martha, other daughter with Suzzi Roche (not a bad singer herself) Luci Wainwright Roche, and, if you want to consider the whole family tree, the McGarrigle Sisters, one of whom he was married to and is Rufus and Martha's mother.

When talent was passed out, this family shoved several hundred people out of line, and grabbed the share belonging to everybody they squeezed out, as well as their own share.

And now, Sloan Wainwright, sister of Loudon and aunt to Rufus and Martha, has joined the parade. Is this just a case of folk music incest, a case of someone being welcomed on board and given a slot in the parade because of her name? The answer there is a definite no. We'd be discussing Sloan Wainwright in serious and delighted tones no matter what her name was. This woman can deliver the goods.

Her voice is supple and flexible, but strong, like molten steel dipped in honey. Her writing is strong; she can come up with a lyric that will startle you in its appropriateness. Occasionally, she uses the repetition of a single word, like "pretending" in "I Wear the Ring," to develop different shades of meaning and emotional effect in the same song. Her arrangements are simple but always done to suit the song; she relies on acoustic guitars, mandolins and the occasional pedal steel and electric guitar. The strings are often synth strings, but when she uses a virtual string section, there is generally a live violin or viola on board to give the section more of a live feel.

I'm knocked out by Upside Down & Under My Heart. It's a fine record by a major talent. I think you'll be knocked out by it, also.

After all, you can't have too many Wainwrights.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

6 July 2013

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