Recorded in Berlin and executive produced by the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant, Rufus Wainwright's fifth album offers an ounce of restraint from the man that dressed up as Sir Lancelot's crossed girlfriend Lady Shallott on the cover of his last. Well, not really. Having fallen in love and curbed his self-destructive streak, the New York-born singer-songwriter has certainly sharpened his wit on Release the Stars
but the songs remain as ornate and over-the-top as ever, drawing as much inspiration from opera and the musical theater as the desire to purge personal demons. So while Wainwright spends considerable time here pondering the state of the world ("Going to a Town") and his own battles with drug and sexual addiction ("Sanssouci"), every note is punctuated by a choir, orchestral swell, or big burst of brass. It wouldn't be Rufus with anything less. --Aidin Vaziri
This is one of THE albums of 2007. Rufus Wainwright - the crown prince of singer-songwriters - is back with a new album - `Release The Stars'
`Release The Stars' is a 12-track masterclass in songwriting and production - this is his first new material since 2005's remarkable `Want Two'. The album is written and produced by Rufus himself, with Neil Tennant as executive producer. Long time collaborator, Marius de Vries, has also sprinkled magic dust over the tracks in the mix.
Martha's older brother returns with the melodrama and operatics reined in but with his writing and arranging skills intact and enhanced. That's not to say that the intervening period since Want Two hasn't been filled with flamboyance. Announcing to the world that he's writing an opera 'based' on Maria Callas and staging a note-for-note recreation of Judy Garland's legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert certainly bumped up his already well-publicised sexuality. But any worries that he's painting himself into a rather pink corner are immediately swept away by Release The Stars. The boy is simply, fabulously and stunningly talented.
And being swept away is essentially what listening to Rufus Wainwright is like. All the usual elements are here. The louche, barely-formed vowels, the smatterings of operatic chorus and German lied and the way with a song's dynamics that are somewhat akin to a switchback ride: Swooping climaxes and gorgeous choruses aplenty. But here Rufus returns to Want One's more digestible and commercial format.
It's significant that the man who's now been through rehab and grown up in public now takes charge of the production duties (with executive help from Neil Tennant). There's a welcome maturity here in both his choice of cohorts (sister Martha, Marius de Vries and Teddy Thompson along with his dad, Richard, on guitar) and his lyrical subjects. There's still the chronicling of drugs and debauchery ('Sans Souci', 'Between My Legs' ) or love's foibles and frustrations ('Tiergarden', 'Rules and Regulations' and 'Do I Disappoint You') but his wry humour now packs a greater universality.
Also tellingly Release!features his first pointedly political song in 'Going To A Town', which responds to the failings of his adopted homeland. However this is Rufus Wainwright, not the Dead Kennedys, and when he sings 'I'm so tired of America', it's more ennui than ire that drives his muse.
The highlight in a field of jewels is the pairing of the achingly melancholic 'I'm Not Ready For Love' followed by "Slideshow"; a track that leaves you breathless, ending with the more optimistic couplet: 'Do I love you? Yes I do...'. His sense of European classical tradition lifts anything out of the ordinary, and yet there's enough pop-tinged variety here to keep the undeniable campness from getting too heavy. Release The Stars has to be one of the releases of the year! --Chris Jones
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Release the Stars is the fifth studio album by Canadian-American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, released through Geffen Records on May 15, 2007. Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant was the executive producer and the album was mixed by producers Marius de Vries and Andy Bradfield. Wainwright's most commercially successful album to date, Release the Stars charted in 13 countries, reaching Top 10 positions in Denmark, Norway, and the United Kingdom, and was certified gold in Canada and the UK. The album generated three singles: "Going to a Town", which peaked at number 54 on the UK Singles Chart, "Rules and Regulations", and "Tiergarten". Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright (born July 22, 1973) is an American-Canadian singer-songwriter and composer. He has recorded seven albums of original music and numerous tracks on compilations and film soundtracks. He has also written a classical opera and set Shakespeare sonnets to music for a theater piece by Robert Wilson.