Sunday, November 7, 2010
Lucy Wainwright Roche -- Lucy
Lucy Wainwright Roche
Being the daughter, niece, and half-sister of a bunch of accomplished singer-songwriters, Lucy Wainwright Roche probably had a lot to prove when she decided to give up her teaching career and go into the family business. After all, her parents are Suzzy Roche of the Roches and Loudon Wainwright III. Her aunts are Maggie and Terre Roche, also of the Roches, and Sloan Wainwright, and her half-siblings are Rufus and Martha Wainwright. That’s an awful lot of familial talent to live up to. Well, first on a couple of eight-song EPs, and now on Lucy, her first full-length release, Lucy has more than proven herself worthy of a seat at a Wainwright and/or Roche family round-robin session.
Although her songs have their own distinctiveness, Lucy reminds me more of her mother’s music than her father’s. The melodies, the sometimes quirky lyrics, the way she harmonizes – sometimes with herself, or with back-up vocalists like her father, or the Roches, or the Indigo Girls, or Girlyman – have a similar kind of appeal to the Roches. Take “Once In,” the lead-off song, for example. The lines seem to be disjointed, but they come together as images of time on the road leading back to home. The travelling life, represented by the blurry, lonely, highway scene depicted on the CD cover, is a recurring theme in many of Lucy’s songs.
My favourite songs in the set include “Accident and Emergency,” an observational piece about a night spent in a British hospital’s emergency room, and “Statesville,” which uses images of a torn down high school in that North Carolina town, and the hanging of Tom Dula – immortalized in the folksong “Tom Dooley,” which happened in Statesville in 1868 – as metaphors for a broken relationship.
After 10 of her own songs, Lucy ends the album with a pair of interesting covers. With Paul Simon’s “America,” featuring the patented Roches harmonies, Lucy beautifully captures the same kind of innocence, alienation and anomie that Simon and Garfunkel brought to their recording more 40 years ago. Then, with Elliot Smith’s “Say Yes,” Lucy and duet partner Ira Glass, express the seemingly contradictory thoughts of someone who’s broken up, but apparently still linked in love, with his ex-girlfriend.