Monday, 10 December 2012

Albums for Life: 84: Rufus Wainwright: Poses

I first became aware of Wainwright through his Dad's song 'Rufus is a Tit Man'; Loudoun Wainwright's paean to his hungry, breast feeding baby. The providing mother was Kate McGarrigle; his deep genetic pool promised 'talent' and 'attitude'.
20 odd years later he emerged with a promising debut album; which he followed up pretty smartly with 'Poses'.
Rufus has gone on to great success with a whole string of ambitious and eclectic albums; he veers from folk to opera (often in the same song) with consummate ease. Maybe too much ease, as, for me, his vocal gymnastics and artistic vision seems to have become more important than the songs. He's like the talented boy whose parents push him forward at Xmas gatherings; seemingly reluctant at first, then you just can't shut him up. Yup, our Rufus likes to show off his talent; now, often a wearying wailing wall of sound; signifying not a lot other than how sparkly he is...
I get the feeling that he's no longer singing to me but at me, or to his own, very lovely reflection.
And the camping and vamping is awfully impressive, I guess that you've got to admire the ambition, but his convoluted baroque 'n' roll is not particularly lovable.
The connection's gone; I prefer it when he looks you in the eye...

'Posies' had heart and humor; the boy was making giant strides whilst still taking baby steps; sure there was ambition aplenty but the voice sang directly to us, not to the royal box or indeed the heavens. There was a delicate vulnerability in the tremulous, rich, warm, beautiful delivery that marked him as a real talent; arch and self aware sure, but focussed, reigned in and emotionally engaging.
I've posted 'Tower of Learning' and 'Poses'; their original videos followed by live performances by the family. And, as we started this post with mother's milk, let's finish it with some chocolate milk...


  1. Haven't listened much to Rufus but have heard some good stuff and some of the rather overdone stuff you describe so well.

  2. Got all of his stuff. Love his theatricality & vulnerablity in equal measures. Every album has something to offer. His voice does take a bit of getting used to for an album's length but whatever album you listen to you'll find something to embrace.