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Rufus Wainwright

POSES (Dreamworks) • Rufus Wainwright

And now for someone and something completely different.

Poses is a real masterwork, an urban balladscape whose depth defies a casual or quick study. There's too much to it, and it takes energy and attention to listen to it closely. But all your efforts come back in spades, it's all there. Even the lyrics are printed out in a way that's debilitating to read, so I suggest going to the artist's website and reading along, it's worth it. They're really great.

It's shocking when you come upon a record being marketed as a pop release that's so refreshingly original, and so masterful. There are Nilssonian elements, but little could be more welcome. It's pop music from a parallel dimension, where it's art that matters. Call it corny if you want, but it opened my mind, and my heart. Not just the words -- the unbelievable melodies, the world class players and singers, the lavish arrangements of instruments and voices. Pierre Marchand has done the work of a magician more than a producer. He also played many beautiful tracks (the liner notes are a sadistic puzzle), engineered and mixed. The violin work of Anjana Srinivasan is absolutely celestial. The inspired string arrangements alone lift this record high above its shallow or bottom feeding contemporaries. The artist and producer wrote the strings, in some cases with sister Martha, the principal among an otherworldly band of background singers. The more I listen, the harder it is to get to the bottom of it. When it grooves, it seduces. When it soars, it romances, and mystifies.

The truly brilliant son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle resides in Montreal. He's on tour, do not miss him. I will certainly drive hours to Louisville in May, and will hope to interview him there. Check out this amazing artist on our Listen page.  • FG

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