CD Review: Rufus Wainwright

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Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright
by David Chiu

It’s amazing how time passes by in 15 years. Back in 1998, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright came on the scene and caused bit of a splash with his self-titled record – a throwback to the old-fashioned pop somewhere between the 1920s and 1950s with some contemporary sensibilities. Since that wonderful debut record, Wainwright has continued to make strong records and to his credit never really strayed from his sonic m.o. of baroque, torchy and ornate pop music. That’s the running theme that threads this new 18-track compilation featuring songs of romantic yearning and angst buttressed by Wainwright’s lounge-lizard croon and torchy lyrics as it’s balanced by swoon-laden ballads (“Foolish Love,” “Poses,” “Dinner at Eight,” and a beautiful piano rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”) and upbeat, ebullient pop (“Out of the Game,” “April Fools,” “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk”). This collection features a new song, the soulful “Me and Liza” that kind of evokes ’70s pop a la Randy Newman. As evidenced by this compilation. There’s a timeless quality to Wainwright’s songs that stands with the best of Tin Pan Alley and torch songs of yesteryear. (The deluxe version also contains rare studio and live tracks, including those from the soundtracks of Brokeback Mountain, Moulin Rouge and Across the Universe).


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