Visions of Martha making her way down a fire escape frantically with the strap of a high-heeled shoe in her mouth and a wadded-up pair of panties gripped in her hand temper I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too with a sense of urgency and a sense of treachery and a sense of peril.
Part broken-hearted, part howl-at-the-moon, part soulful-shitstorm, the stellar youngest Wainwright is often noted for being a ball of emotion (most of it directed at the shitty parenting skills of Loudon Wainwright III) and a citadel of profane and unrefined impulse. She’s also despairingly needy and distressed; a true trickster with a hiked-up skirt and a wounded soul attached to the bottle.
Aw hell, it’s light and shade for all of us in the end anyway.
I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too exemplifies the gloomy patterns we fall into in hopes of finding pleasure. By focusing on our lost wishes and our frantic, obsessive dreams, we’re able to give a blessing to a small splinter of sunshine before once again shrinking back into the shadows to bear witness to our own devices.
It’s not surprising that the cover of Martha’s second album – and can you believe that? – features her prone on a sofa, legs bare, ready to victimize or be victimized. This record is that openness, it is that austerity, and it is that discrimination.
Take for instance “Bleeding All Over You,” fierce title and all. She messily lays her soul out and suffers the wounded results: “My heart was made for bleeding all over you/And I know you're married but I've got feelings too/But I still love you.”
Martha seeks implicit approval incessantly and is incessantly frayed or flung by love and living, it seems. On “So Many Friends,” she bemoans the direction her life has taken. “I have lost so many friends/I have gained so many memories.”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thankfully, dear Martha has found her way through the depths of her tormented choices and the directions her life has taken her. She is more than willing to look forward and courteously assembles what she can. “Comin’ Tonight” lets us know that she’s still searching for that encounter and is willing to forget it when it’s done.
But in the end, what can Martha do?
A tempest of bad choices – that’s why we love her – and a throng of heroic attempts rush through her life in song with frankness and audacity. She’ll get up again. She’ll climb down another fire escape. And we’ll be there, every step of the way.