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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 8 March 2006
Although this is Rufus's first, it was the last of the 4 CD's I purchased. I confess I did so out of loyalty and completeness, not expecting it to compare with the wayward brilliance of the Wants.
What I heard exceeded my expectations by a mile, particularly once the sophisticated tunes have been given a chance to lodge in the brain.
The sound-world here is more straightforward than subsequent releases, very much piano-based with various band and orchestral backing. Comparisons with Billy Joel and Elton John are inevitable, and it's difficult to see how any fan of piano-based rock and pop could not enjoy this.
The first four tracks are simply perfect. Foolish Love, with its lush, segmented melodies, Danny Boy with its lagubrious rolling rhythm (in 6/8 time?), while April Fools is the Beatles song they never wrote.
The fourth song, In My Arms, is almost a duet with his sister Martha. Maybe I'm biased, but having Martha on backing vocals is like sprinkling magic dust on a song. Can't help thinking back to Emmylou Harris doing the same for Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan.
Other highlights are the graceful Barcelona, fully justifying its 7 minute length, and Sally Ann, a wistful show tune. There's not a song out of the 12 here that doesn't deserve its place on this impressive debut. Say what you want about his voice, Rufus's talent as a songwriter is undeniable.
Best time to enjoy: late afternoon/early evening.
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on 18 September 2006
Listening to Rufus Wainwright's debut album is not only a pleasant esthetic experience, it's probably a very healthy thing to do to your brains and senses, like eating fresh salmon or avocado or viewing an Olafur Eliasson installation. His breathless vocals and guitar and piano arrangements fuse in cabaret-like compositions that ooze in through your ears and keep you from doing anyting else but listen.

His lyrics are frequently sad yet never dire, counting some very personal songs like Danny Boy, a love ballad, and Beauty Mark, a tribute to Rufus's own mother, folk legend Kate McGarrigle. Rufus's quite uncloseted sexuality is one of many themes his lyrics touch upon, but not to the point of tediousness; today he's arguably the most significant gay icon alive, at least for the younger generations.

The album's opening track, Foolish Love, epitomizes Wainwright's style by building up slowly and gradually, in different phases, until it reaches a theatrical and danceable pace. It's mellow, but definitely with a silver-lining, a confessional with wit and pop-sensibility, setting the tone for a fantastic debut album which a lot of people are discovering now, 8 years after its release.
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on 20 November 2004
From 'Foolish Love' to 'Imaginary Love' there is with Rufus an honesty and integrity AND musical genius unmatched except by the very best (I'm thinking prime Neil Young here). 'In My Arms' and 'Baby' are two of the most beautiful tracks I possess. Buy the album. Don't expect to love it immediately, it is unique songwriting - you have to learn to 'wring the changes' and then WOW. You can trust Les. Les loves music. Les loves this album. (Don't ever trust a guy that says "Trust me" but), trust me.
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on 19 November 2004
A singer/songwriter for whom the word 'popera' was coined, Rufus Wainwright's debut album is probably unlike anything you've heard before or will hear again.
With musical references to Saint-Seans (on 'Matinee Idol'), Gershwin (on 'Baby') and other greats, Wainwright's strong and haunting voice will grab you from the first track.
His other albums may just be more accessible, but this is one of the most memorable and interesting collections of songs you're likely to hear in a long time.
Buy it, then buy all his others ... you probably will anyway!
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on 29 July 2005
This is an absolutely fantastic album which offers a wide selection of well-crafted songs and I highly recommend it. However, before listening to other Rufus work (in particular the album "Want One") I was put off by the sounds of the samples. I would recommend buying "Want one" first, getting accustomed to Rufus' wonderful, unique voice, and then purchasing this album (and his others!).
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on 7 December 1999
Produced by Van Dyke Parks, Rufus Wainwright comes along with 12 perfect songs. He reminds me of Randy Newman by the melodies he sings. His first album is an alter ego of Jeff Buckley's GRACE, just change the guitar into a piano... Don't miss him live, he's brilliant !!!
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on 22 August 2009
I'd never listened to any Rufus before. I bought this album based on reviews, cost and the huge amount of exposure he's had on TV and radio of late due to his opera coming out.

Hold on. Opera?

Yeah, that did make me wonder a bit. Someone who has written and released several "popular music" albums, bringing out an opera? And then I started reading up on him a bit and suddenly there seemed to be an awful lot of people saying how good he is. How come I've never heard of him apart from Jonathan Ross interviewing him on his radio show?

So I bought this album.

I listened to it the first time and thought "hmm...a couple of nice tracks there - quite melodic, but also quite complex - difficult to get into". Then I listened to it again. And again. It became a bit addictive. I couldn't stop listening to it. In fact, I found myself deliberately putting a different album on my iPhone becuase I felt guilty that I wasn't listening to anything else.

But I kept on returning to this album.

And I still keep on returning to this album.

I can't stop playing it.

The melodies, rhythms, counter-melodies, syncopation and orchestration just astound me. Each time I listen to it I hear something new. I find myself telling people about this album because I just feel people need to know about it.

I've started buying up his other albums now. But I can't recommend this enough.

But please - don't listen to it once and give up. This album just keeps on giving, and gets better and better on each listening. You'll find yourself HAUNTED by this album - humming it and whistling it when you least expect it.

Buy this album. Like OK Computer by Radiohead, this is one of those timeless, classic, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful albums you'll never regret buying.
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on 18 July 2009
This isn't going to be a in-depth review but i'll tell you the basics... Before this, I just had Want One, which I'd heard nothing like before, and almost instantly became drawn to it. I say almost because I think for most young ears (I'm fifteen - was fourteen when first properly listened to him) Rufus' music is something to adjust to. When I did, I realised how good and decent it really is and began to see the talent he has. I then went on to buy this, and my admiration for his music has rocketed. I love the melodies and his whole style!

If you're interested in getting into his music, i'd reccomend this album as a starting point. It shows the depth he inputs into each and every song, and his talent as a musician should be appreciated. I think the classical edge and his impeccible voice go to show that he knows what he's doing. A good break from chart music - which alot of teenagers need to get away from. Buy it!
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on 15 October 2006
Rufus Wainwright is a musical and lyrical GENUIS, but.... I heard his albums in reverse order. This obviously being the last I had heard. Want I bought first the double album and it blew me away. The songs (even though all so very different) seemed to flow and you could not wait for the next one. Rufus debut was not like that. Danny Boy is a very painful song about his love for a straight friend that broke his heart, you can really feel his pain in the song. April Fools lifts the spirit of the album and stands out on this album, you hope to hear more songs like this on it, but there is not!! Also Beauty Mark (about his mother) is another magical song, talking openly about his sexuality. Even though I do not seem to rate it highly in my review I still give the album 4 stars for effort and bringing a refreshing style of music and lyrics. Definitely originality at its best....
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on 31 May 2001
Having listened to Rufus' album many times now, it has grown on me, but not to the extent as I expected. The production and quality of the recordings are excellent, however with one flaw- I feel that some of the songs are overlong and basically overcooked. His voice is sharp and distinct, however he can drift into a drone-like wihnge that is off-putting. However, certainly a good quality album with lots on it for everyone.
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