Toronto
2 min

Wainwright wound-up

And a gaggle of McGarrigles

POSES. The fab, new album from Rufus Wainwright. Credit: Xtra files

Rufus Wainwright’s plaintive self-titled debut CD has been in constant rotation on the old boom box ever since its release in 1998. Basking in Wainwright’s tragic/comic/folk/rock/pop/arias has helped push me through many a writer’s block – and the fact that he’s adorable doesn’t hurt, either.



So I came to Poses, his new CD (from Dreamworks, to be released Tue, Jun 5), with high expectations. I was not disappointed.



The first thing that drew me to this wonderful artist was his unique voice – vocally and lyrically. Some accuse him of being too adenoidal but the power, range and emotional subtlety continue to impress. Oh the drama!



And then the lyrics: Twisting stories, rife with images and such specific references you could see them being fumbled in less able hands. It’s his way with a lyric phrase that reveals the true artistry here.



Favourites on the new disk include: the haunting “The Tower Of Learning;” the opening track “Cigarettes And Chocolate,” a tale of the bad things we do; “California,” with the line, “so much to plunder. I think I’ll stay in bed;” and “Shadows,” co-written with producer Alex Gifford, a perfect combination of Wainwright’s distinctive voice with a good pop hook.



Working with Gifford, Sarah McLachlan’s producer, has given the album a more produced sound quality but this in no way buries this artist’s distinctive voice.



I think the lasting thing about this work is its theatricality.



Hmmm? I wonder if Wainwright will write a wonderful musical someday. Oh, to dream!



The Moulin Rouge Soundtrack (out now; the movie is released on Fri, Jun 1) turns out to be a lot like many other things in pop culture right now – a collage of familiar songs thrown into the meat grinder, hopefully producing something new.



This is the kind of soundtrack where you go in humming the tunes. To my surprise, it’s very engaging over-the-top stuff.

Once you get beyond the sort of pointless cover of Lady Marmalade, the CD is full of entertaining flourishes, not the least of which is Rufus Wainwright’s wonderful cover of Jean Renior’s “Complainte De La Butte.”



Other highlights include Ewan MacGregor showing off an impressive pop voice on Elton John’s “Your Song,” “Elephant Love Medley”, a borderline absurd love medley with Nicole Kidmam displaying her less impressive but still competent voice, and Fat Boy Slim’s ” Because You Can Can Can.”



The reinvention of the musical? We’ll see, but definitely worth a listen.