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Rufus Wainwright Pushes Boundaries to Release the 'Most Pop Album" of his Career

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rufus Wainwright Pushes Boundaries to Release the 'Most Pop Album" of his Career

Man oh man. 2012 is shaping up to be a fine year in pop music, isn't it?  On April 23rd (May 1st in America), prolific American/Canadian singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright will release his seventh album, Out of the Game on Decca/Polydor Records.  Produced by the one and only Mark Ronson, Out of the Game is set to be "the most pop album" Wainwright has ever attempted and first single, the album's title track echoes those sentiments.  The song starts out light and breezy with a distinct 70s feel to it, before moving into a big, rich, loud and beautiful chorus.  While not as orchestrally-driven as Wainwright's past efforts, the instrumental is massively groove-worthy.  An unlikely duo in many respects, the prospect of Ronson and Wainwright working together excites me to no end.  Mark Ronson has an uncanny ability to bring out a completely different side of an artist and for my tastes, Wainwright is the perfect candidate for a reinvention of sorts.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe that Wainwright is a master at what he does, however his last couple of albums have been anything but commercial, which is a problem from a marketing standpoint.  While I think the commercialism of an album is the farthest thing on Wainwright's mind while he's in the studio and writing songs, it certainly doesn't hurt his chances at increasing record sales and the likelihood of real chart success, something that has always been elusive to Wainwright.  Here in America, Wainwright's last album peaked at #75 on the Billboard 200 and spawned a whopping zero charting singles.  To date, his highest charting album remains 2007's Release The Stars, which managed to peak at #23 on the all important Billboard 200.  Release The Stars also became Wainwright's best charting album in the UK, where it debuted at #2 on the UK Album Chart.  Stateside, Wainwright rose to prominence with a couple of cover songs that appeared on popular soundtrack albums back in 2001, namely a cover of Leonard Cohen's often-covered "Hallelujah," which appeared on the Shrek soundtrack, and "Across The Universe" originally by The Beatles, which appeared on the soundtrack to I Am Sam (and later on his album Poses as a bonus track).  I really believe that Wainwright owes a lot of his popularity and success here in the States to these two covers.

Poses, my absolute FAVORITE Rufus Wainwright album, peaked at #117 in America back in 2001, reemerging on the chart three years later where it rose to #103.  Clearly it's not chart success that makes the artist, rather, the art itself. At the same time, I'd love to see Mr. Wainwright raise his profile and land a commercial hit single, and with Mark Ronson at the helm, I think he stands the best chance at actually doing that.  What makes it even more exciting is Ronson's belief in this album, calling it "the best work of my career." Given that Ronson has worked with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Adele, Lily Allen and the like, that's a pretty bold statement to make.  I for one, trust Ronson wholeheartedly, so if he says it's the best, then it's the best.

Out of the Game was recorded in New York during the Fall of 2011 and features twelve "hook-laden, memorably arranged tracks reminiscent of Rufus' early work."  According to the press release,
"From the uptempo opening chords of the title track and first single, to the gospel tinged rock of ‘Jericho,’ through the beauty of ‘Sometimes You Need’ and the emotional pull of ‘Candles,’ this new disc ranks alongside Rufus Wainwright’s very best."
The sound of the album is influenced by a certain decade, and all of the music that came out of that decade.  According to Ronson, Out of the Game "has a real 70’s, Laurel Canyon spirit.”   Rufus himself cites “all the greats- Elton, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie - basically the brash and beautiful. It’s also very Rufus.”  The album features collaborations with the likes of the Dap-Kings (featured on Amy Winehouse's Back To Black record and subsequent tour), Wilco's Nels Cline, Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow, Sean Lennon and even his own sister, a talented singer/songwriter in her own right, Martha Wainwright.  Sounds promising, doesn't it?  Listen to the single above and check out this little promo video on the making of the album and featuring Wainwright and Ronson.  First single "Out of the Game" is scheduled for release on March 16th via iTunes.


Check out Rufus Wainwright on the web: 

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