Rufus Wainwright: "Release the Stars"
Producer: Rufus Wainwright
Geffen
Release Date: May 15

Wainwright's songwriting has always been brash, bold and beautiful, but perhaps never more so than on this lavishly orchestrated, adventurous effort. Out and proud from day one, Wainwright makes his most unashamedly flamboyant record yet, larger-than-life melodies wrapped in swelling strings and surging horns and buoyed by the singer's typical swoon-inducing, caramel-covered tenor. He pours his heart into everything from Broadway-worthy showstoppers like the naughty "Between My Legs" and the excellent title track, to more straightforward confessionals like "Going to a Town," a wounding indictment that laments, "I'm so tired of you, America." Though the final third of the album drags a touch as Wainwright lets up on the heart-pounding melodrama, the highs here are exceptional. Wainwright once again proves classical and pop-in good hands-can be amazingly well-suited bedfellows. --Susan Visakowitz