Sloan Wainwright: Upside Down & Under My Heart

[3 November 2011]

By Liam McManus

Ten songs from Sloan Wainwright, of the singer-songwriter Wainwright family. If you’ve only got a passing familiarity with the family you probably haven’t heard of her. This isn’t for lack of talent so much as lack of prolificacy. Unlike her brother Loudon III, she only started releasing music in the 1990s. Her latest album is pleasant enough, but doesn’t possess any truly distinguishing characteristics. It’s nice to have on while you’re relaxing with a cup of tea or whatever, but it’s certainly not the kind of music that needs to be endlessly dissected to reveal some underlying truth of human nature.

Instead we get varying degrees of the singer-songwriter genre, from the pretty straightforward country of the title track to piano-driven ballad “Today” to a bit of chamber folk in “I Wear the Ring” to the more rock-ish “Little Bit Right”, all propelled by Wainwright’s voice: a soulful, pure baritone that vicariously elevates the rather average words being sung. In a few places, some interesting things show up: the highly syncopated piano introduction in “Here I Am” and the instrumentation of “Live Out the Best of Your Life”, featuring some mandolin, banjo and slide guitar. However, the former is quickly discarded as the rest of the song comes in, and the latter uses those instruments in an extremely bare-bones manner. All in all, nothing bad here, but nothing spectacular either.

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