CD Review: Want Two by Rufus Wainwright

In a time when singer/songwriter names like Gavin DeGraw, Sondre Lerche, and Toby Lightman are being subtly snuck into the ears of avid radio listeners, Rufus Wainwright’s distinctive sound differentiates him from the different.

His fourth and most personally orchestrated album, Want Two, was released in late 2004 and is a follow-up to the conveniently titled, Want One. Without a doubt, it may be his crowning achievement.

A rendition of the liturgical piece “Agnus Dei” is his initial track that blatantly shows his unique fusion of classical music with his prominent rock and roll drawl that was apparent in his previous albums but is more evident in this one.

The use of this concept resurfaces many times especially in songs like the haunting piano piece “This Love Affair” and the harpsichord-driven baroque tune titled “Little Sister”, a song that optimistically lectures his sister (and women in general) that in the entertainment industry, you need more than your musical talent to make it.

As an added bonus, the CD includes a DVD of Rufus in concert at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, where he performs his past songs as well as tracks from Want Two.

The album is a virtual journey through classical music and is both mesmerizing and melancholy at the same time. Wainwright’s vocals can be taken out of each track, and each song would still maintain it’s melodic instrumentality, making it a pleasurable listening experience.

Even so, his voice just adds more texture and his personable meaning to each and every piece. The complexity and meditative nature of this album may not be as commercial as his others and people may be misled with titles like the decadently rhythmic “Old Whore’s Diet” and the dissenting “Gay Messiah.”

Nonetheless, Wainwright remains a superb instrumentalist and truly defines the term singer/songwriter.

Grade: A

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