October 2, 2003

Test Spin: Rufus Wainwright

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Rufus Wainwright has turned in another outstanding performance with an ambitious new album featuring his trademark quirky mix of lush orchestral arrangements and traditional pop sensibilities. Want One, recently released by DreamWorks, is another solid installment from the son of folk legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. Mr. Wainwright is, for the most part, sticking with the formula that has served him well over the course of his two previous albums: lush and opulent chamber pop combined with lovely vocal harmonies. Mr. Wainwright has wisely surrounded himself with an outstanding group of musicians ranging from Charlie Sexton, a venerable institution of a guitarist, to vocalist and long-time Wainwright collaborator, Linda Thompson.

The songwriting on the album is strong, although perhaps not on par with his previous outings. And at times it seems as though Mr. Wainwright and producer Marius deVries (Bjork, Madonna) don’t quite notice when enough is enough: some of the songs wander aimlessly without any real sense of purpose and others feature orchestral instrumentation that is simply over the top. Still, Mr. Wainwright conveys an enormous amount of genuine emotion and lyrical sincerity as he narrates his tales of love and loss. The meticulously crafted musical landscapes alone are enough to make the album a worthwhile listen.

Archived article by Mathew Gewolb