Rufus Wainwright shares tender musical moments about his family on his new album. But he’s still waiting to find out what Anna Wintour thinks about the song she inspired.
Rufus Wainwright shares tender musical moments about his family on his new album. But he’s still waiting to find out what Anna Wintour thinks about the song she inspired.

Rufus shares the love on new album

Rufus Wainwright has long mined the "emotional gold" of his family relationships, for better or worse, for his art.

It was a creative inevitability as the son of musicians, the late Canadian folk artist Kate McGarrigle and American songwriter Loudon Wainwright, and older brother to Martha, also a member of the family business.

Rufus Wainwright with his late mum, Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle. Picture: AP
Rufus Wainwright with his late mum, Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle. Picture: AP

His epic new "pop" album Unfollow The Rules is no exception, although this time around his husband Jörn Weisbrodt and eight-year-old daughter Viva are the inspirations behind a clutch of its songs.

And mostly, they are love song dedications - with the exception of Alone Time, a wholly relatable commentary on the need for personal space in a relationship.

While he doesn't exactly confirm he ran works such as Peaceful Afternoon, Romantical Man and My Little You by his loved ones, Wainwright wrote them with their hearts in mind.

"On one hand, I am a real miner of emotional gold and all of that stuff and I've always found songwriting a way that I can psychologically translate my pain, for better or for worse," he said from his Los Angeles home.

 

Wainwright releases his new album on July 10. Picture: Supplied
Wainwright releases his new album on July 10. Picture: Supplied

"That being said, I like to play above the belt, I don't believe in jabs.

"I believe that a song is eternal, and a lot of the anger or frustration or bitterness that you might feel in an instant shouldn't last.

"I do want to have some forethought because I bore the brunt of many songs over the years, whether it's from Loudon or Martha or my mother, and I know what the effect is.

"So I always try to have a silver lining in my work, but be tremendously truthful at the same time."

While he has received the hug of approval from his immediate loved ones, Wainwright has yet to hear anything from powerful Vogue editor Anna Wintour on the album's opening track Trouble In Paradise.

The 46-year-old artist - who has been entertaining his fans during the pandemic shutdown with his Robe Recitals, costumed in his collection of bathrobes - impersonated Wintour in the video for the track.

 

"I've heard nothing, complete silence and I'm afraid to ask, frankly," he said.

"I'm sure it was probably just a blip on her radar in terms of all of that she goes through in a day. You know, I'll try to corner her in the Hamptons sometime. If I ever get back there."

Much of Wainwright's musical output over the past decade has focused on his love of opera and orchestral works.

Unfollow The Rules serves as a bookend to his 1998 self-titled debut record which announced his otherworldly, evocative vocals and wholly original style, fusing the traditions of pop songwriting on piano and guitar with orchestral flourish.

It is heavily influenced by his move back to Los Angeles, where he recorded his debut, to be closer to Viva. Her mother is Leonard Cohen's daughter Lorca.

Wainwright brings the west coast pop traditions into the modern era. Picture: Supplied
Wainwright brings the west coast pop traditions into the modern era. Picture: Supplied

The move found him channelling the west coast pop sound, pioneered by Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, after initially not connecting with that tradition when he first went there after being signed in the 1990s.

"There's a marvellous tradition, certainly now living in Laurel Canyon, that I would like to be a part of. I wouldn't even dare say that I am," he said.

"This record is very much a love letter to that tradition."

Unfollow The Rules is out on July 10.

 

Originally published as Rufus shares the love on new album



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