You will believe in love: The best of Rufus Wainwright

I haven’t paid as much attention as I thought he deserved when he provided part of the soundtrack to my coming out two decades ago, a development I blame on my ambivalent relationship with his voice. In the wrong mood I think it sucks: a vibrato besotted with its own purring, as if he were a cat stroking itself. He may have recorded the eponymous 1998 debut too early, but not only do money and connections create their own imperative, it’s possible a “better” debut would’ve produced less endearing, enduring tunes.

So I have affection for ol’ Rufus. Last month Stereogum published my reappraisal of second album Poses. Last year’s Unfollow the Rules is archetypal sound, solid product from an artist settling into the craftsman stage of a career. I may use next week’s vacation to give the Judy Garland album a devoted listen.

1. Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
2. April Fools
3. Imaginary Love
4. Grey Gardens
5. Dinner at Eight
6. Beauty Mark
7. Out of the Game
8. Vibrate
9. Between My Legs
10. I Don’t Know What It Is
11. Montauk
12. One Man Guy
13. California
14. Not Ready to Love
15. Foolish Love

6 thoughts on “You will believe in love: The best of Rufus Wainwright

  1. You nailed the Wainwright voice and our problems with it. We first encountered him opening up for Roxy Music in 2001 in Camden, NJ. It was not a love affair. We made sure to arrive late in Atlanta the next week.

  2. Yes, that operetta vibrato can be annoying in large doses and although I don’t find fault with this list I want to add “The One You Love” which is easily in my top 5 and “One Man Guy”, his astounding duet with Martha. Bought the debut in 1998 and couldn’t stop blasting “April Fools” in my workplace for a year.

  3. As though Richard Ashcroft thought higher of his voice, if one can imagine that… good songwriting chops, though.

  4. Surprised that the song “Poses” is not number one on the list, and totally shocked that it appears nowhere in the top 15.

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