Rufus Wainwright's 'Out of the Game'

Posted by Bo Ellegaard on November 23, 2020 0 Comments

One of the best opening lyrics so far this year comes near the middle of Rufus Wainwright’s seventh studio album, “Out of the Game.” Following a stutter-step, loping piano-drum introduction suggesting a Patsy Cline ballad, the singer with a perfect tenor starts with a suggestion: “Let’s meet in a respectable dive/On a somewhat safe street/And have a beer.” Over the next five minutes,  Wainwright offers intimate recollections to an unnamed lover, and one of the best lyrical turns of his career, on an album that follows through on the promise of his 1998 debut and his impressive, if at times uneven, work between then and now.

The last few years have been transformative for Wainwright. His mother, singer Kate McGarrigle, died in 2010, and in 2011, Wainwright and his partner became fathers (with the help of Lorca Cohen, Leonard’s daughter -- talk about some genes). You can hear this wonder, this depth of emotion, throughout. “Montauk” seems a letter to their daughter to be read when she’s grown. “Bitter Tears” is a would-be dance-floor anthem about an early morning, tear-filled cab ride, concluding with the line, “I’m discussing with the morning, and it’s going to be OK,” turning a bummer cruise into song of hope. This ability to maneuver through complex emotions is one of Wainwright’s strengths and makes “Out of the Game” an essential recording.

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