- Released: May 19, 1998
- Label: Dreamworks
Rolling Stone - 6/11/98, p.1223.5 Stars (out of 5)
- "...his incandescent pop songwriting, piano-based melodies and cool, brooding tenor combine on compositions that range from droll lounge ballads...to orchestral noir....if the songs...remind you of old pop standards, it's because they're so damn classy."
Spin - 1/99, p.91Ranked #17
on Spin's list of "Top 20 Albums of '98."
Spin - 7/98, pp.122-1247 (out of 10)
- "...his talent is huge, and so original that trendmongers who make it their business to announce a pop revolution every fiscal quarter are unlikely to understand it....The nice thing about Wainwright's lyricism is that he's definitely no ironist. On the contrary, he's in love with beauty..."
Entertainment Weekly - 5/22/98, pp.68-69
"...RUFUS WAINWRIGHT often feels like the soundtrack to a never-released film from the '30s...the album is utterly charming, and Wainwright has managed to avoid the hokey, wax-museum tendencies of a Michael Feinstein. Roll over, Chuck Berry, and tell Irving Berlin the news." - Rating: A-
CMJ - 1/11/99, p.3
"...flair for the dramatic makes the young singer's dubut a thrilling, iconoclastic album - few recent performers have crafted orchestrated pop this deep, this dramatic or this dazzling..."
- 1.Foolish Love
- 2.Danny Boy
- 3.April Fools
- 4.In My Arms
- 7.Beauty Mark
- 9.Matinee Idol
- 10.Damned Ladies
- 11.Sally Ann
- 12.Imaginary Love
Personnel: Rufus Wainwright (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, tack piano, half-speed piano, S-6, chamberlin, castanets); Jon Brion (acoustic, baritone acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, accordion, tack piano, vibraphone, marimba, bass, S-6, optigan, toms, percussion, timpani, crotales, celeste, temple blocks, bells, background vocals); Yves Desrosier (guitar, slide bass); Marty Grebb (alto saxophone); Benmont Tench (piano, keyboards, Hammond organ); Pierre Marchand (keyboards, bass); Glen Hollman (upright & mandolin basses); Ash Sood (drums, persussion); Jim Keltner (drums); Martha Wainwright (background vocals).
Producers: Jon Brion, Pierre Marchand, Van Dyke Parks.
Personnel: Rufus Wainwright (acoustic guitar, piano); Benmont Tench (keyboards); Jim Keltner (drums).
Audio Mixers: Pierre Marchand; Bob Clearmountain.
Recording information: Med; Ocean Way Three & Seven; Sunset sound; Sunset sound Factory; Wildsky Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec, Canada.
In 1998, the music industry was inundated with recordings by the offspring of '60s and '70s icons. Chris Stills, Sean Lennon, Emma Townshend; nepotism ran unchecked, with varying degrees of aesthetic and commercial success. Rufus Wainwright, scion of acerbic singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright and Canadian songstress Kate McGarrigle, may share a nasal vocal drawl with his father, but the songs here are closer to Brian Wilson, Randy Newman or Harry Nilsson than Loudon or Kate. The Newman/Wilson connection is underlined by the skewed, neo-Baroque string arrangements and co-production of Van Dyke Parks, whose sensibility seems to mesh perfectly with Wainwright's piano-based tunes.
Wainwright's debut finds him exercising considerable harmonic and compositional chops in the service of a vision that's closer in spirit to some of the eccentric, decidedly non-rock singer-songwriters of the early '70s (like those mentioned above) than anything current. His gift for the extended melodic line serves him well here. Lyrically, Wainwright is able to combine unsentimental passion with unpretentious imagery; no mean feat, even for veteran troubadours. This recording, substantive and rewarding as it is, portends a bright future.