OLD MOTHER HUBBARD
Never let it be said that Rufus Wainwright has gone to the cupboard of influences, inspirations and references and found said cupboard to be bare. On his latest album – Out of the Game – Wainwright seems to pull out sophisticated pop-rock gems effortlessly, and with vaunted British producer Mark Ronson providing the necessary relevant and appropriate sound values (good old-fashioned vibes basically), this album of fecund material is destined to be one of the finer albums of 2012.
Certainly, Wainwright is one of the last old school songwriters out there in the grand tradition of Billy Joel, Elvis Costello and Randy Newman and reaching further back, his ornate pop style recalls Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, and even opera. You know, the kind of eclectic, widescreen music that was commonplace in the 70s, the decade in which Wainwright was born.
High on Wainwright’s agenda – besides the attention to musical detail – are confessional lyrics that make no bones about its subject matter – Wainwright himself. And thus, one might see a song like the breezy “Out of the Game” as a declaration of settling down – “I’m looking for something that can’t be found on the main drag no”. Whilst the neo-operatic “Montauk” is obviously written for his daughter Viva – “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”. Not to mention the gloriously sarcastic putdown song “Rashida” (former actress-girlfriend Rashida Jones) – “I’d like to thank you Rashida for doing this and giving me a reason to write a song” and then there’s the tender closer – “Candles” – dedicated to Wainwright’s late mother, the singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle, wherein Wainwright laments, “It’s always just that little bit more that doesn’t get you what you’re looking for but gets you where you need to go”.
These highlights emphasize the strength of this album as a whole as Wainwright, Ronson and crack band of backing musicians put together a quite magnificient album. Essential.
Check out the music video of “Out of the Game” (with Helen Bonham-Carter) below.