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1998 debut album produced by Jon Brion with a little help from Van Dyke Parks & Lenny Waronker
The singer/songwriters working today who point to Tin Pan Alley and Broadway musicals as central inspirations can be counted on an index finger. Rufus Wainwright is quite an anomaly--but, then again, he's the son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. Wainwright has been compared to Randy Newman for his piano-based orchestral sense, but unlike Newman, he rarely turns those poppy conventions against themselves: he's always sentimental and sincere about the fluff he explores. When he drives his melodies and lyrics hardest--as on the Beatlesque "April Fools" and the barroom "Matinee Idol"--his considerable imagination is most convincing and entertaining. Fans of folk simplicity should skip this one, but the more adventurous may find the charm in Wainwright's ambitious debut. --Roy Kasten
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Top Customer Reviews
Finally, about two-thirds of the way through I'd hit the eject button in defeat. Every time. Sorry, Rufus, I REALLY tried. Mr.Wainwright's self-titled disc eventually found its way to a used CD bin at my local discoteria.
The tracks "Foolish Love" and "Baby" are my favorites. They are cleverly orchestrated, well-executed gems on this album. Other stars include "April Fools", "Damned Ladies", "Millbrook" and "Danny Boy".
There are 2 reasons that I gave this release 4 stars instead of 5. The first is the album's relatively non cohesive nature. While most are good songs, they don't seem to relate to one another in the way that I believe a 5 star album should. I had a problem finding a prevelant underlying theme in all the selections. Second, some of the tracks are, in my opinion, downright poor, "Imaginary Love" being the primary culpret. Wainright's voice on this selection is whiny and the lyrics/music are simply unmemorable. Additionally I was not a large fan of the song "Barcelona". In this track, Wainwright's tendancy to be mellow is taken to a downright dull extreme.
However, the strong tracks on this album (especially "Foolish Love") make it, in my opinion, a very strong release from a very talented artist.
Wainwright's rhythmic talent for extending and manipulating vocal passages is apparent in "Universe". Taken aback by what I heard and felt from this tribute tune, I was eager to hear his other recordings. Well, unfortunately, his original work is not quite as impressive as his cover work. His albums have their flaws. His lyrics don't really hit home on a cerebral or heart-felt level which to me, is more important than virtuoso piano and guitar playing; which are also non-existant on both albums. However, his dynamic voice is his talent and that is why he deserves three stars. I wouldn't buy either one of the albums but they deserve a listen.
SIDEBAR: If there exists a cover of a classic song that has actually surpassed its original recording in both musicianship and pure emotion, there is no other than Jane's Addiction's cover of The Rolling Stone's "Sympathy for the Devil".
Most recent customer reviews
I first heard Rufus Wainwright on NPR (luckily, they announced who the gorgeous singer was!) and later read an interesting interview with him (I think it was in the NY Times? Read morePublished on April 15 2004 by A. Ford
Unique voice and some fabulous lyrics and instrumentals, but after just a couple of listens I got really tired of this CD.Published on Jan. 30 2004 by Ann Young
Rufus Wainwright is an unfortunately little-known singer/songwriter with a very strong, very loyal cult following. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2003 by Queen Horatius
Rufus is the best songwriter working today, yet he's relatively unknown. Poses, his second CD, is an easier introduction- this CD can get a bit slow for mainstream taste, but this... Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2003 by S. Galgas
Simply one of the best albums I've ever heard. Rufus Wainwright's cabaret stylings & unique singing voice make his music just so pleasing to my ear. Read morePublished on June 21 2003 by A zealous gun girl
Rufus has the most powerful, captivating voice I have ever heard. So soulful, so tortuted, simply powerful and evocative. This is a must!Published on April 10 2003 by Werewolf afficianado
Having heard several times of that guy, I just thought I might give his music a try. Well, maybe this is not my type of music, who knows. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2002
I bought Rufus's debut after falling in love with "Poses." Although I prefer Rufus's second release, this CD is a must-have as well.Published on Nov. 24 2002
I picked up this CD at a used music store after hearing some of RW's music in a coffee shop. I was blown away by it! Incredible depth of lyrics, lush layers of music. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2002 by Amazon Customer