Rufus Wainwright’s 2012 Out of the Game was a splendid return to art-pop form after a five-year span in which he released only an album of somber piano ballads.
Contrary to the title of his latest album, Out of the Game, Rufus Wainwright got very much back into the game this year with his first pop release since 2007.
His last album was 2010’s All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, a collection of somber ballads for piano and vocals that was very much informed by the sickness of his mother, who died just before its release.
Wainwright uses quite a bit of acoustic guitar, not to mention orchestral music and horns, in his music but at heart he is a tickler of the ivories. Look no further than his sixth studio album, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu, which featured nothing but his piano and vocals.
Like John Mayer, Rufus Wainwright released a “comeback” album this year inspired by pop songwriters of the 1970s. In Wainwright’s case, the influences are more Elton John and David Bowie than Neil Young and Joni Mitchell — more glam-rock than folk-rock.
And Wainwright isn’t coming back from a creative slump but a personal one: the death of his mother in 2010, shortly after the release of his sixth studio album, All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu. That record was written while she was hospitalized, with several songs referencing her impending demise, and it’s a stark, sometimes difficult listen.