It wasn’t easy to surpass “There’s a Last Time for Everything” in terms of melancholy quotient, but Lucy Wainwright Roche accomplished that with her latest album, “Little Beast.”
Her third album, which was released in October, is arguably the saddest project released by the daughter of singer-songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Suzzy Roche.
Wainwright Roche’s depressing songs about heartbreak and loneliness are sadly beautiful.
“This is clearly not a cheerful record,” she said, “but I like sad songs.”
“Come in from the Cold,” a moving, deep track from Joni Mitchell and an array of Patty Griffin tunes are some of the sad songwriters who inspire Wainwright Roche.
“I grew up on Joni Mitchell songs and I’m going to be opening for Patty Griffin next month,” she said. “Patty Griffin has written some of my favorite sad songs.”
It doesn’t get much sadder than the haunting “Quit with Me,” a duet with Matthew Perryman Jones.
“I guess just life inspired that one,” she said by phone from Plymouth, N.H. “I was hanging out with Karin (Bergquist) from Over the Rhine and we were talking about relationships.”
The song is about two people who love each other very much but must break up.
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When the half-sister of singer-songwriters Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright wasn’t penning songs about relationships gone bad, she turned to other subjects that bothered her, such as the 2016 Presidential election. “Fifth of July” looks back at how Wainwright Roche felt during November 2016 and the impact that fallout has had on the country.
“I remember being so depressed after the election, but what’s made me feel even worse is when I travel around the country,” she said. “I meet so many people who have become divided. I touch on that in the song without being too didactic.”
Wainwright Roche is hopeful that the political climate will turn around. If that’s not the case, the Brooklyn resident will be inspired to pen a new batch of tear-jerkers.
“That’s true,” she said. “That’s the upside for someone who writes songs like I do. Apparently it’s my innate ability to craft material that is on the depressing side.”
At least she swims upstream and ended up with the correct vocation after spurning the family business during her early 20s.
“There was a time in which I wasn’t interested in music at all,” she said. “Unlike my brother and sister, I’m very shy. The last thing I wanted to do was get up onstage and perform. I went to graduate school for teaching. I taught elementary school for a couple of years before getting sucked back into music.
“It was a nice surprise for everyone in my family. There was never any pressure from my parents to become a musician. They know I couldn’t be happier as a songwriter, even though I’m depressing everyone with my songs.”
Wainwright Roche’s projects with her mother, such as their latest album, “Mud and Apples,” aren’t so depressing. The tandem will perform together Monday (4/8) at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids.
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“I love working with my mom,” she said. “We have a great time in the studio and an even better time when we perform together. I know we’ll have a blast in Iowa.”
Don’t be surprised if Wainwright Roche arrives a few hours early so she can hang out in Iowa City before she performs.
“I love Iowa City so much that I spent a month there and had the best time,” she said. “I make sure to come back every fall and play at The Mill. I have a lot of shirts that say ‘Iowa.’ I’m a big fan of Iowa City. Some of it is based on the dog park there. I can’t think of the name of the dog park, but it has a pond where my dog can swim. My dog is on tour with me and he’ll be swimming there.
“I’ll be hanging out with the Weepies (Iowa City residents Deb Talen and Steve Tannen) when I get there. I understand why they live in Iowa City. It’s such a cool place.”
WHAT: Lucy Wainwright Roche & Suzzy Roche
WHERE: CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday (4/8)
TICKETS: $17 advance, $21 show day, CSPS Box Office, (319) 364-1580 or Legionarts.org/events/upcoming/