Release the Stars
Rufus Wainwright may be an alien. His records may contain hidden messages from his alien race, and one day hundreds of thousands of classically trained pop singer-songwriter geniuses who play with full orchestras with countless brilliant albums may come down from the skies and take over the world.
Release the Stars is completely overdone and underdone in all the right places. The songs flow up and down, taking you exactly where your heart is in the mood for exactly when it's in the mood for it. The all frills Broadway, classical, and opera influences meet his Lennon/McCartney style songwriting somewhere right in the middle, creating something that is brilliantly original - yet familiar and comforting.
Waingwright's lyrics (also brilliant) paint very vivid images that are especially clear on Release the Stars; there are no stale love songs to be found here. "Who would have ever thought/hanging with a homo and hairdresser/you'd become the one desired in every woman's heart," Wainwright sings in the perfectly constructed "Nobody's off the Hook." The contradiction of the charming composition in the music and the blunt (and sometimes trashy) lyrics make a match almost too good to be true. It is most evident on the whirling Frank Sinatra esque strings of "Tulsa," accompanied by the opening line, "You smell of potato chips in the morning."
The album's first single, "Going to a Town" (and perhaps Rufus' most commercially friendly offering yet), features a simple Coldplay paino riff and in-your-face anti-American sentiments; "You took advantage of a world that loved you well/I'm going to a town that has already been burnt down/I'm so tired of you, America." It may be harsh, but it's sung with such sweet sincerity that even Dubya would love it.
"Between My Legs," the most romantic account of the end of the world imaginable, Wainwright laments over rather unRufus-like guitars about how himself and the person he loves will escape together through a secret underground river. The final lyrics of the song are spoken by Welsh actress Sian Phillips - whose addition to the track is epic, to say the least.
The album's closing title track, though proclaims that "Old Hollywood is over," proves that it may only take one person to keep it alive. Wainwright has proved himself to be so much more then just a celebrity family product; probably a lot more then he had to to be successful. Release the Stars, though his fifth album, plays like most singers' fantasy Greatest Hits. We will happily await the invasion.
Release date: May 15, 2007
Label: Geffen Records
Rating: 9.0 / 10
On the web: www.rufuswainwright.com
© Copyright 1998-2005 RockMusicReview.com. All Rights Reserved.