Friday, February 15, 2008

Review the Stars

I’m in a music-y mood, so I thought I’d do a quick review of an album that’s getting a fair bit of play on Mr. Pink, my I-Pod. So, without much further ado, here’s my review of Rufus Wainwrights Release the Stars

Track 1. Do I Disappoint You?

Starts off a little folksy. Then the backing chorus kicks in. All of a sudden, we’ve got something quite different on our hands here. It soars all over the place, and there’s orchestral work going on. It’s still quite a simple tune, until the last thirty seconds, when all heaven breaks loose. Okay, Mr. Wainwright, that’s an opener.

Track 2. Going to a Town.

Again, we’re starting off fairly simply, with piano, a beautiful voice and some drums. Can’t argue with the sentiment either. Then we get the backing again, but this time it stays pretty mellow. He’s letting his voice and the lyrics do the show-casing this time, and I remember the first time I saw this on Rage, I sat up and took notice. Took notice, jotted down the name, got the laptop and downloaded the song. At 3am. It’s that damn good. And how handy was it having my own laptop with wireless net access? Very.

Track 3. Tiergarten

As close to the traditional love song as Rufus is going to get. The only way I can describe this song is jaunty. It’s jaunty. With some great lyrics. I just love the line “I have suffered shipwreck against your dark brown eyes. I have run aground against your broken down smiles” And always that restraint.

Track 4. Nobody’s off the Hook

This is, I must admit, a track I usually skip if Mr. Pink is close to hand. Not because I don’t like it, but because it’s faintly melancholy, or has this longing about it that I don’t usually go in for. It’s not for me. There’s some beautiful strings, some haunting piano melodies, but it just doesn’t grab me. Maybe on a sad day.

Track 5. Between My Legs

I must confess, the lyrics of this song baffle and disturb me. For instance “When you were here I missed you, now that you’re away I’m out there without you and I shed a tear, Between My Legs” Now, it doesn’t take a genius, but…. What? Why? And then there’s the end. There’s a Welsh actress whom I don’t know (Fairly sure the first name is Sian) reading out a very stirring (hammy) monologue as Rufus sings the same words. Which are “There’s a river underneath the city, that only I know all about. On which from this city, we can flee” Now it’s the “On which from this city” that got me. It’s odd, the first time you hear it. Then it grows on you.

Track 6. Rules & Regulations

I find this song curiously annoying. I don’t know why, there’s not really a reason. It just kind of rubs me up the wrong way. If there were a 25 least played songs on Mr. Pink, this would be amongst them. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, I just find it a bit bla compared to some of the other songs on here.

Track 7. Not Ready to Love

Not so much an anti-ballad as a You-deserve-better-than-this-I’m-all-screwed-up ballad. Nice and chilled out, pretty laid back for Rufus. Very peaceful, and therefore gets a play at home at night and never at work. The only thing that I don’t like about this song is that there’s a touch too much vibrato happening for mine.

Track 8. Slideshow

I usually skip this song because I know the next song is coming up, and I get impatient. There’s nothing to complain about with this song. You have to listen to the lyrics to get the gist. It sounds like a ballad, and then you hear “I’d better be prominently mentioned in your next slideshow. Cause I paid a lot of money to get you over here, you know” It’s hard to place this song, and that’s probably why I skip it.

Track 9. Tulsa

I’m not sure if I’m coloured by the fact that I know this song is about the lead singer of the Killers, Brandon Flowers. It also beautifully showcases his voice, there’s strings and piano happening and it ends on the line “This is just a reminder of the antique shop that I want to go back and visit when it’s open in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just in case you don’t appreciate this song about you” and he makes it sound like an opera.

Track 10. Leaving for Paris No. 2

It’s just too slow even for me. That’s all I can really say.

Track 11. Sanssouci

Catchy as all get out. This is another one where you really need to listen to the lyrics to appreciate it. It’s happy, and probably the poppiest tune on the album. One of those songs where you could listen to it over and over again and find another layer to it.

Track 12. Release the Stars
And apt ending. It’s the perfect blend of ragtime, show tune and opera that I think is the essence of Rufus Wainwright. Well, that’s what I think, anyway. There’s a lot to like about this song, and it’s probably the things I like about the album in general. Rufus has the most restrained voice I’ve ever listened. He’s a baritone who only lets it go at the perfect times. And when he does, it’s a pure joy to listen to. And this song is the perfect example of it.

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