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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | Geffen

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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | DreamWorks

Talented chamber pop troubadour Rufus Wainwright followed up his startlingly fresh debut album with the 2001 release Poses. While his self-titled first album was very much a work by Wainwright (aided by his contributing producers), Poses seems to be more of a group effort, with the young composer allowing the other performers on the album to lend their talents, creating an even fuller, more "live" sound. Both Wainwright's younger sister Martha and son of British folk near-legends Richard and Linda Thompson, Teddy Thompson contribute harmony vocals which soar above Rufus' affecting moan like the choir he must hear in his head. Produced by Pierre Marchand (Sarah McLachlan), the album continues the same outstretched, enveloping sound established by Wainwright's earlier work, but contributors like contemporary composer Damian le Gassick and Propellerheads' Alex Gifford push in different directions, adding understated drum loops and gritty beats in unexpected places. Above all of the studio gimcrackery and pedigreed guest stars floats Wainwright himself, whose introspective, wry, and heart-wrenching songwriting remains his true strength (although his leisurely operatic tenor is not far behind). The clunking, loping "Greek Song" evokes the sprawl of an impossible Ingmar Bergman spaghetti Western, while the swaggering "California" shows a sunny exterior masking the song's satirical sneer. Amidst this sonic barrage, a high point comes in the cover of patriarch Loudon Wainwright III's "One Man Guy." Performed by Rufus, Martha, and Teddy Thompson's simple acoustic guitar, these three grown children of the '70s folk movement embrace the song faithfully, basking in their own harmonies and offering a respite from the blissfully lush orchestral pop that surrounds it. While Poses shows growth and worthwhile exploration, the album's "group" feel suffers only slightly from being less intimate than Wainwright's first album. Although his contributors add much, there was something blushingly personal about his debut that may have gotten a little buried this time around. That being said, Poses is still a spectacular album, brimming over with Wainwright's trademark popera and young romantic wishes. At times the album is beautifully discordant and sonically chilling, but often hints at warm grins with mischievous winks. ~ Zac Johnson
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Geffen

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Classical - Released April 22, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon Classics

Hi-Res Booklet
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Classical - Released April 22, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon Classics

Booklet
Not the singer/songwriter's first foray into Shakespeare, Rufus Wainwright's Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets offers an ambitious mix of accompanied readings, opera, and chamber pop to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death (its release date falls a day early). Three of the included sonnets appeared on Wainwright's 2010 LP All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu but are rearranged and newly recorded here. Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine, and, most frequently, opera singer Anna Prohaska are among several celebrated guests on the 16-track set, which provides two interpretations of most of the poems. The album opens with a reading of "Sonnet 43" by Welsh actress and singer Siân Phillips over quietly percussive electronics, before approaching the same poem as a graceful, fully realized aria with Prohaska and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It's not until the third track, "Take All My Loves (Sonnet 40)," that we hear Wainwright himself sing, and it's an electro-symphonic, avant-garde pop song that also features an inserted recitation by English musician/producer Marius de Vries. In fact, those hoping to hear not only Wainwright's compositions but also his voice will have to make due with just three tunes and some supporting appearances. A highlight among his pop songs and of the album is "A Woman's Face (Reprise) (Sonnet 20)," a wistful ballad reworked from All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, in which Shakespeare expresses deep affection for another man. Elsewhere, droning guitar and rock drums are punctuated with strings on "Unperfect Actor (Sonnet 23)," which sees the musician joined by his sister Martha Wainwright, Fiora Cutler (aka Fiora), and actress Helena Bonham Carter, the latter in a spoken intro. Florence Welch takes the lead on the mellifluous, tropics-infused "When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes (Sonnet 29)," and none other than William Shatner delivers a dramatic, highly edited performance of "Sonnet 129." In a Kurt Weill-esque cabaret entry, "Sonnet 66" is read and sung in German by Jürgen Holtz, Christopher Nell, and Wainwright, with electric guitar, piano, and strings accompaniment. While fans of either persuasion should note that the collection has as much strictly classical material as it does chamber pop, altogether the album presents a compelling, balanced mix of many manner of vocal performance. Arriving on the heels of a recording of his first opera, the French-language Prima Donna, Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets reaffirms that the songwriter/composer is an arranger at home in many styles, with the ability to make this kind of sprawling, genre-surfing project unfold with elegance. ~ Marcy Donelson
$18.99

Pop - Released December 4, 2007 | Geffen

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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | DreamWorks

Talented chamber pop troubadour Rufus Wainwright followed up his startlingly fresh debut album with the 2001 release Poses. While his self-titled first album was very much a work by Wainwright (aided by his contributing producers), Poses seems to be more of a group effort, with the young composer allowing the other performers on the album to lend their talents, creating an even fuller, more "live" sound. Both Wainwright's younger sister Martha and son of British folk near-legends Richard and Linda Thompson, Teddy Thompson contribute harmony vocals which soar above Rufus' affecting moan like the choir he must hear in his head. Produced by Pierre Marchand (Sarah McLachlan), the album continues the same outstretched, enveloping sound established by Wainwright's earlier work, but contributors like contemporary composer Damian le Gassick and Propellerheads' Alex Gifford push in different directions, adding understated drum loops and gritty beats in unexpected places. Above all of the studio gimcrackery and pedigreed guest stars floats Wainwright himself, whose introspective, wry, and heart-wrenching songwriting remains his true strength (although his leisurely operatic tenor is not far behind). The clunking, loping "Greek Song" evokes the sprawl of an impossible Ingmar Bergman spaghetti Western, while the swaggering "California" shows a sunny exterior masking the song's satirical sneer. Amidst this sonic barrage, a high point comes in the cover of patriarch Loudon Wainwright III's "One Man Guy." Performed by Rufus, Martha, and Teddy Thompson's simple acoustic guitar, these three grown children of the '70s folk movement embrace the song faithfully, basking in their own harmonies and offering a respite from the blissfully lush orchestral pop that surrounds it. While Poses shows growth and worthwhile exploration, the album's "group" feel suffers only slightly from being less intimate than Wainwright's first album. Although his contributors add much, there was something blushingly personal about his debut that may have gotten a little buried this time around. That being said, Poses is still a spectacular album, brimming over with Wainwright's trademark popera and young romantic wishes. At times the album is beautifully discordant and sonically chilling, but often hints at warm grins with mischievous winks. ~ Zac Johnson
$1.29

Miscellaneous - Released November 27, 2015 | Société Radio-Canada

$7.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Verve (Adult Contemporary)

Milwaukee at Last!!! captures singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright performing live in Wisconsin at the Pabst Theater on August 27, 2007. Recorded while on tour in support of his 2007 studio effort, Release the Stars, Milwaukee at Last!!! finds Wainwright drawing heavily from that album, along with a few inclusions from 2003's Want Two and 2007's Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall. In that sense, Milwaukee is reminiscent of the opera-esque aspirations of Release the Stars, as Wainwright includes the best material off that album and delivers the songs in a timely, dramatic fashion that makes for a well-paced listen. If Rufus Does Judy was Wainwright's own homage to a classic live recording, then Milwaukee plays as his own would-be concert masterpiece. Surrounded by a large brass and woodwind ensemble and backed by a superb rock band, Wainwright is left to command center stage here as only he can, with a cabaret sense of derring-do and a theatrical style, while never sacrificing the true emotional weight of his songs. Reminiscent of live shows by such similarly inclined artists as Elton John, David Bowie, and, well, Bette Midler perhaps, Milwaukee is simply a fantastic listen that showcases Wainwright as both a showman and a deeply creative songwriter with a superb knack for live performance. ~ Matt Collar
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$18.99

Pop - Released December 4, 2007 | Geffen

Hi-Res Booklet
If Release the Stars displayed Rufus Wainwright as a weary, wannabe expatriate who was (in his own words) "so sick of America," then Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall -- released just seven months later -- shows him falling in love with the country all over again. Few things are as American as the American Songbook, which Wainwright tackles here with energy, camp, and a sly wink. Reprising the entirety of Judy Garland's 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall, he regains much of the momentum that was lost in Release the Stars' slower moments, performing live with a brisk 36-piece orchestra and several family guests. Perhaps there are people better suited to this task than Wainwright, singers who more closely embody the innocence that Garland always seemed to radiate in spite of her growing addiction to booze and Benzedrine. But Wainwright is obviously enamored with Garland -- who, in addition to her role as one of America's greatest female entertainers, has also become an enduring icon in postwar gay history -- and he revels in the glamour and glitz of her 45-year-old set list. These songs hail from a golden era dotted with trolley cars, Cadillacs, and glitzy jazz clubs, an era in which Wainwright never lived but still has the ability to convey. The secret rests in his vocals, which rise and fall between notes with all the smoothness of a slide guitar. Steeped in opera music and Tin Pan Alley tunes, Wainwright doesn't fall prey to the trappings of a contemporary pop singer, but rather comes across as someone much older. He sings in a fail-safe tenor with colorful vibrato, unafraid to tackle several songs in their original keys and rarely, if ever, missing a note. His infrequent mistakes are mostly lyrical or rhythmic in nature -- a flubbed line here, a botched intro there -- and they're met with applause from the audience. So while the performance isn't perfect, particularly toward the end of the show (where, after two hours of performing swing tunes and jazz standards, Wainwright is understandably low on steam), it's still nice to hear the singer in his element, crooning about dinging trolleys and zinging heartstrings with flamboyancy that only he can muster. ~ Andrew Leahey
$12.99

Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2007 | Geffen

$8.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Verve (Adult Contemporary)

Rufus Wainwright's 2012 studio effort, Out of the Game, is a '70s singer/songwriter album with some soft rock and disco and elements that bring to mind a mix of Boz Scaggs, ELO, and Todd Rundgren. Produced by Mark Ronson, the master of making retro new again, Out of the Game has a vintage, organic aesthetic featuring horns, old-school keyboards, strings, and the occasional fuzzed-out guitar. In that sense, it is a return to the more straightforward pop/rock style of Wainwright's early albums, although some of the opera and classical influences of 2007's Release the Stars are still evident. Similarly, the stark personal style Wainwright investigated on 2010's All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is also still here, albeit in a much more pop-friendly and melodically palatable form. Wainwright, who has always been a deeply intimate songwriter (he confronted his crystal meth addiction and recovery from it on 2003's Want One, dealt directly with the death of his mother, Kate McGarrigle, on Lulu, and has never shied away from addressing his homosexuality), here details his life since becoming engaged to his partner in 2010 and fathering a child in 2011 with Lorca Cohen (Leonard Cohen's daughter) on the impressionistic "Montauk." In the song, Wainwright croons to his future adult daughter, "One day you will come to Montauk and see your dad wearing a kimono and see your other dad pruning roses/Hope you won't turn around and go." Later in the song, he summons the ghost of his mother with the line, "One day years ago years ago in Montauk lived a woman now a shadow/There she does wait for us in the ocean." It's a terribly bittersweet moment and a kind of apotheosis of all the events that inform the mood on Out of the Game. As moving as that song is, Wainwright and Ronson balance out the more introspective songs with such immediately engaging cuts as the Rundgren-esque soft rock title track anthem, the soulful baroque pop of "Jericho," and the T. Rex-meets-'60s girl group-sounding ballad "Rashida." Elsewhere, "Barbara," "Bitter Tears," and the languid "Song of You" evince a kind of Giorgio Moroder Europop vibe and also compare favorably to works by such similarly inclined Wainwright contemporaries as Ron Sexsmith and Richard Hawley. Although Wainwright's private life may have taken him out of the pop game for a time, this album is one of his most classicist, not classical, pop records and in that sense, Out of the Game is definitely a winner. ~ Matt Collar