Album: Rufus Wainwright

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The Independent Culture

The singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has never been shy: slap-bang in the middle of the opening track on his third album, Ravel's "Bolero" suddenly booms out in mid-crescendo. It's an audacious start, andit works, but what follows is more subtle and melodic. Want One - the first of two instalments - is produced by Marius deVries, best known for his work on Madonna's Ray Of Light and Massive Attack's Protection, and it sees Wainwright backed by a versatile ensemble - including his sister Martha, and Teddy Thompson, the son of Richard and Linda. The adolescent melodrama displayed on previous releases is largely absent, although Wainwright's parents, the folk singer Loudon Wainwright III and the Canadian chanteuse Kate McGarrigle, loom large. "Oh What A World" looks at the lifestyle they bequeathed to him, while the title track examines familial love and expectation. His feelings towards his father are more explicitly dissected in "Dinner at Eight", in which he compares their relationship with that of David and Goliath - "No matter how strong/ I'm going to take you down with one little stone/ I'm going to break you down and see what you're worth/ What you're really worth to me." Elsewhere, Wainwright displays an elegantly romantic way with words: "Be a star and fall down somewhere next to me", he pleads in "Pretty Things". But he is at his best during tracks like "Want" and "Dinner at Eight", when it's just him and his piano. The only false note is struck in "Movies Of Myself", where plaintive vocals jar against stadium-rock guitars and dubious Eighties keyboards.