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Rufus Wainwright - Release the Stars - Geffen

It's hard to believe that this is Rufus Wainwright's fifth album, but it's true - he's now a seasoned vet. He has grown up considerably on Release The Stars. After battling an array of demons (internal and external), he now sounds happier, more settled, and much more outward-looking. That being said, we still feel the sting of his wit, and the old Rufus sarcasm is still there if you turn over a couple of stones and listen closely.

Produced in Berlin by Rufus himself (with Neil Tennant, the former Pet Shop Boy, as executive producer), Release The Stars is certainly dramatic and ornate, just like we like our Rufus music. Many songs owe more to opera and music theatre (like "Nobody's Off The Hook" and "Slideshow", for example) than to the grand pop stylings he's been known for. That being said, tunes like "Do I Dissappoint You" and the first single "Going to a Town" are classic American pop, ala Harry Nilsson. Throughout the record, Wainwright employs some rather large string and brass sounds that give each track a degree of grandeur.

It's going to be interesting to see where he goes from here, but - for now - I'm getting quite a bit of mileage out of this new record.

Written by Dan Reed