Rufus Wainwright is a music industry survivor. The son of two extremely talented artists, Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, he’s persisted in the business for over a decade with poise and sass. Age has brought a maturity to Wainwright’s material, and Out of the Game offers some of his best pop work to date. Contradiction is rife on the record as Wainwright concentrates on his retreat from fame while making more commercial music, and the birth of his daughter Viva is celebrated as the loss of his mother to cancer is mourned.
Producer Mark Ronson makes his presence known from the start, and his nostalgic sound works perfectly with Wainwrightâ€™s lush vocals.Â The title track documents his retreat from the spotlight, and this leads straight into the soulful â€œJericho,â€ evoking a proper 50’s bandstand feeling with rich backing vocals and plenty of horns and strings to boot.
One of the most touching tracks on the album is â€œMontauk,â€ which describes what Viva will see when she comes to live with her gay fathers in the New York town. Wainwright doesnâ€™t hide any emotion, especially when he gets to the sprawling, tender album closer, â€œCandles.â€ Rather than sound tragic, the song is delicate, with bagpipes, drums and organ evoking the more tender portions of a funeral.
As though the songs couldn’t stand on their own, the albumâ€™s guest slots are remarkable. Sister Martha Wainwright lends her vocals, and appearances also come from Sean Lennon, Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett, Andy Burrows, members of Wilco, Miike Snow, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.