How Big How Blue How Beautiful
What would the never-understated Rufus Wainwright want with the ubiquitous Mark Ronson?
It's a good question, and the only possible conclusion to reach is that the definitively elegant singer-songwriter has called in the Amy Winehouse producer as he is tired of enjoying only critical acclaim and wants to finally also score some serious commercial success.
The experiment is only a partial triumph, but this cannot be laid at Ronson's door: despite once again recruiting the Dap-Kings, the Brooklyn soul stars who sang on Back to Black, he doesn't ladle horns and retro-soul trappings all over Out Of The Game.
The fault is more that Wainwright doesn't give him much in the way of material to work with. From knowing torch songs such as Jericho through pomp-pop epics such as Rashida and mellow ballads like Song For You, an air of heard-it-before permeates the album: this is the absurdly gifted Wainwright tossing songs off, on auto-pilot.
There is one exception. Montauk, a love pledge to Wainwright's daughter Viva, is a breathtakingly beautiful and moving glimpse into the child's unorthodox but beguiling future: "One day you will come to Montauk/And see your dad wearing a kimono/And see your other dad pruning roses/Hope you won't turn around and go."
As an album, it's uneven, fitful, but possessed by sudden streaks of genius – a pretty precise definition of Rufus Wainwright.