Rufus Wainwright seems to have lost interest in the pop music world after 2012’s Out of the Game (a prophetic title in hindsight). Since then he has written and recorded an opera and a collection of Shakespeare sonnets set to orchestral music. Not exactly Top 40 material.
I don’t begrudge Wainwright his musical path, but I miss the old stuff. From 1998 to 2007, Wainwright released five amazing albums that married his classical sensibilities with a real knack for pop songcraft.
The next ‘Piano Man’ who occupies a strand of my musical genome is the loved-by-me, loathed-by-everybody-around-me Rufus Wainwright.
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.
I fell for Rufus Wainwright in San Francisco. Appropriate, I guess.
I already owned Wainwright’s debut album, and loved it, but it was the release of his sophomore effort, Poses, that solidified him as one of my favorite artists. It’s that second album that separates the one-record wonders from the true contenders.
I bought Poses while on vacation in San Francisco (with my wife!) and listened to it for the first time on headphones in the hotel room. Wainwright had taken his sound in a new direction, somewhere exciting and cosmopolitan. It was more sleek than ornate, but just as passionate.
Three years later, in 2001, Wainwright released his second album, Poses. I remember buying the CD during a trip to San Francisco and listening to it for the first time on headphones in our hotel room. An unaccompanied man buying a Rufus Wainwright album in San Francisco — that’s probably the most conspicuously gay thing I’ve done apart from watching Brokeback Mountain alone in Coconut Grove. And sleeping with that guy that time…
Poses shed a lot of the baroque instrumentation of Wainwright’s debut album in favor of a more polished pop sound. Not that it is mainstream by any stretch… his trademark strings and cabaret backing vocals are present on most tracks.