Martha Wainwright’s Love Will Be Reborn is her first new album in five years.
The 45-year-old has been divorced since releasing 2016’s Goodnight City and there are moments of real catharsis that suggest John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, Getting Older being the most obvious example.
Vocally Patti Smith is all over this record, it’s often punky, brutal and stabbing vocals that leave the listener wondering what hit them. Title track Love Will Be Reborn is a hopeful, driving punch the air moment with a memorable hook.
The beautifully laid back Report Card delivers a country ballad that is also the most abstract track on the record. It also suggests something of her early work with its dreamy slide guitar and drifting piano. Body and Soul follows with a similar mood but is a more visceral and angry animal. Justice has no trouble nailing a sense of crawling out from an unbearably dark time while urging the “new blood” of life returning.
The shuffle of Sometimes seems a more straightforward slice of Americana until the lyrics take us back right back into the struggle. There is always the back and forth of a very real inner battle going on and something of the strength it takes to be a survivor. Rainbow is perhaps Love Will Be Reborn’s most rock n’ roll moment, it’s a hot, sweaty club moment that arrives just at the right time. Falaise de Malaise is a fitting piano-led closer mostly sung in French changing the tempo once again. This isn’t a record to put on in the background, it’s one that will wrestle you to the ground and demand that you are paying attention.
There are endless great lines that will linger long after you’ve given this album the first spin. It’s unlikely there be a more honest, heartbreaking and arresting record that will stand up to Love Will Be Reborn this year, it should be around the top five of many an end of the year list.