Rufus Wainwright: Release the stars

Following on from his double ‘Want one/two’ Rufus is back and in a fine self defeatist mood on album opener ‘Do I disappoint you’ but as much as the lyrics may stick like a thorn in a lions paw the music is yet again spectacular, part musical, classical and the Big band experience with a dash of Disney camp thrown in for good measure. There are few people out there with such vision and scope and fewer who could pull it off. By track two a manifesto is placed on the table ‘I’m so tired of you America’ he sings on ‘Going to a town’ as he berates the country for how it treats the people who love it. ‘Tiergarden’ sounds like it was recorded in a Swedish log cabin in front of a roaring fire as Rufus pours out a tale of suffering ‘shipwreck against your dark brown eyes’ he croons. ‘Nobody’s off the hook’ is a string laden number that sweeps in and out of earshot and contains some great lines ‘who would have ever thought, hanging with a homo and hairdresser you would become the one desired in every woman heart’. By far the funkiest and catchiest track on here is ‘Between my legs’ it is so brilliantly overlaid that trumpets, French horns, drums, harp, piano and many more mix into a wall of sound that is relentless as it builds and Rufus sings ‘there’s a number you can call, like a breast that you can suckle’ before a spoken word piece comes in at the end to bring it all to a close. ‘Rules and Regulations’ keeps up the momentum with extra female backing and trumpets and there’s even a dash of piccolo towards the end and you can’t say that very often! Perhaps the most moving song here is ‘Not ready to love’ a self admittance that states ‘I’m not ready to love, until I’m ready to love you, the way you should be loved’ it’s the most understated song on the album but not only does it provide respite from the bombast of some of the albums other songs it just works better subtle. ‘Slideshow’ opens with the immortal line ‘do I love you because you treat me so indifferently or is it the medication’ over a few quiet instruments before bursting into the crescendo chorus and as the big band build up fills every possible corner of the tune Rufus Belts out the lines until it drops back down and he declares on the fade out ‘do I love you, yes I do’. The strangest track award must surely go to ‘Tulsa’ a bizarre tale of the inhabitants and shops of Oklahoma; luckily its only two minutes long so doesn’t out stay its welcome too much. ‘Leaving for Paris no2’ is the most stripped back and minimalist song here, its just piano, bass and vocals and is a simple story of running away carried on the strength of Rufus’ voice. Penultimate track ‘Sanssouci’ drifts along with a flute and Spanish guitar in toe and is notable for being one of the only songs that contains no piano. Title track and album closer ‘Release the stars’ pulls out all the stops and as well as the London session orchestra we get a mini choir and brass section, it’s a huge cacophony of a song and a fitting end to what is an hour in the company of some amazing musicians, produced by Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys) and of cause led by the ever improving Rufus, its certain a journey but one well worth taking.

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