Mark Ronson showed up with a full mockup of the songs to be included in a forthcoming collaboration with Rufus Wainwright — and this stripped-down version will soon be released, as well.
“His demos were great,” Ronson said. “The whole album exists in a whole other format with Mark doing everything. It’ll avail itself at some point.”
Out of the Game, the seventh album for the genre-crossing Wainwright, is due May 8 from Decca/Universal. Wainwright and Ronson met professionally through their shared publicist Barbara, to whom the album track “Barbara” is dedicated.
Overall, Wainwright said the songs have a retro, 1970s-ish feel, something that references the pair’s deep appreciation for period hitmakers like Steely Dan, Harry Nilsson and Elton John.
“We referenced the ’70s somewhat,” Wainwright told Music Radar. “We were born in that decade, and so we both own it, but the way we went about it on this record wasn’t deliberate. It was like we were digging into our primordial past by going back to that era.”
Ronson, known for his Grammy-nominated work with Amy Winehouse, added a “guitar or bass here or there” to the Out Of The Game sessions, Wainright added, but the bulk of the instrumentation is handled by a talented group of sidemen that includes Sean Lennon, Nick Zinner and the Dap-Kings.
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Rufus Wainwright. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – RELEASE THE STARS (2007): I am convinced that Wainwright is this generation’s finest melodist. I can’t think of a single young artist who so beautifully crafts vocals in such a way that it simply doesn’t matter what he’s singing about: You just want to hear the melody he’s singing. And there is a lot of Broadway in his vocal style, but he uses it for good, not evil, turning out stunning performances in material that would normally have a nasal-voiced singer like him kicked out of every open audition he tried out for. Wainwright’s vocals simply stretch beyond the normal. There’s power and emotion that so few honestly display in modern rock.
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – WANT ONE (2003): With his 2001 release, Poses Wainwright (yes, the son of Loudon Wainwright III) gave the world a breath of fresh air. Often set to what amounts to modern day Tin Pan Alley tunes, Wainwright uses his voice to display something that so often goes ignored these days — melody. Possessed of a breathy, laid-back voice, it’s easy to get caught up in Rufus’ effortless and yet understated sense of dramatic melody. So powerful is his gift that jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas chose the title track to lead off his 2002 album, The Infinite. Dave knows the good stuff when he hears it.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: COME TOGETHER: A NIGHT FOR JOHN LENNON’S WORDS AND MUSIC (2008): This concert, first envisioned as a benefit to raise anti-violence awareness through the work of John Lennon, was scheduled to be held on Oct. 2, 2001, at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall. Then came Sept. 11, and the event quickly evolved into both a poignant reminder of what the world lost when Lennon was killed but also a tribute to the city he called home for the last years of his life. A highlight is “Across the Universe,” from the Fab finale Let It Be, which features Moby, the former Beatle’s son Sean Lennon and this quivering, almost tearful vocal by Rufus Wainwright. They embolden a song that once held a memorably dreamlike quality with this shaky defiance: “Nothing’s gonna change my world,” the trio sings, in a world that did, in fact, feel completely changed.
VICIOUS WORLD – PLAYS THE MUSIC OF RUFUS WAINWRIGHT (2011): Originally named for a Rufus Wainwright song, it was perhaps inevitable that Vicious World would eventually devote an entire album to this underrated contemporary singer-songwriter. That doesn’t make the prospect any less daunting, considering the sharp turns and blind alleys associated with Wainwright’s deeply idiosyncratic style. But Vicious World, a septet co-led by saxophonist Aaron Irwin and trombonist Matthew McDonald, matches the music’s mysterious melodicism with an expanded lineup that also includes lush textures from violinist Eliza Cho and cellist Maria Jeffers — notably on the elegiac “Memphis Skyline.” It’s an album of lasting depth, filled with both poignant pauses and plenty of swing — no small surprise.