Album Review: Rufus Wainwright - Out Of The Game

24 May 2012 | 8:15 am | Dylan Stewart

A varied-but-ultimately rewarding album from one of this generation’s finest songwriters.

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It's a voice as smooth as liquid caramel and for a growing number of people it is one that is almost instantly recognisable. It's a voice that comes from a rich pedigree, and it's a voice that Rufus Wainwright has harnessed to perfection on Out Of The Game. A 21st Century Elton John – in more ways than one – Wainwright has delivered a three-part record that could be reproduced just as easily in a smoky, 1950s jazz bar as in the modern day. With coronets, saxophones, soaring backing vocals and that smooth, smooth voice, against a low-lit red velvet curtain opening quartet Out Of The Game, Jericho, Rashida and Barbara would see demure women and well-dressed men approve over the top of their martini glasses as they recline in their leather booth by the bar. From there, the next stanza of Montauk and Bitter Tears is filled with synthesisers and programmed drumbeats, unfortunately sounding somewhat forced and out of place. Here marks the point where producer Mark Ronson wields his wand, but somehow the über-producer fails to have an impact.

The final act of Out Of The Game, however, is where the magic happens. Rufus' sister Martha chimes in with backing vocals on Perfect Man (if there was a song to encourage straight men to turn gay, this would be up there – “Jenny was a pirate and Jane was beheaded and Nina was a sweet nymphomaniac/And with them in my corner I'm sure that it's a tall order/To find that perfect man” – and the following Sometimes You Need takes its Los Angeles-inspired cues from Rufus' father Loudon III.

It is the final song, however, that brings it all back home, with Martha, Loudon III, aunty Sloan and half-sister Lucy combining for backing duties on the eight-minute epic Candles. Accordion and bagpipes, snare drum and acoustic guitar combine to produce a beautiful final cadence to a varied-but-ultimately rewarding album from one of this generation's finest songwriters.