Fabulous music of a non-classical nature

Rufus Wainwright’s Want One is the non-classical album I’ve played most over the last year, and I’m STILL not tired of it. The son of talented and famous folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, Rufus was drenched in all kinds of music from an early age. By his teens, he was closeted away listening to French opera, when he wasn’t on tour singing with his mother. At 24, he made his first album (Rufus Wainwright), which was followed a couple of years later by his second (Poses), both receiving acclaim. Want One, his third, surpasses them in terms of inspiration, sophistication and sheer consistent quality. At first, I was slightly put off by his pouting, rather pretty-boy publicity shots, but having seen him perform live recently, I can vouch for the fact that his intelligent and self-deprecating wit more than compensates!
So what’s his music like? Well, imagine a lyrical, utterly distinctive voice with a range of at least 2 1/2 octaves, singing soaring lines over subtle and intriguing harmonies, combined with unusual orchestrations and lyrics that range from the deeply vulnerable or whimsical through to cynical or even R-rated… one minute a cadence that sounds like Berlioz, the next a cabaret number or a take-off of Ravel’s Bolero… it’s really indescribable, and totally inspiring. I guess you’ll just have to listen for yourself!