A man’s only as good as his word — so echoes the age-old adage. And when it comes to the contemporary musical landscape, the songwriter’s only as good as his (or her) poetry. And in the bitter escape-exit vanity of North American culture, such triumphant success as that of the musical career of Rufus Wainwright is as rare to come by as the voice of the poet in the current commercial-capital media maelstrom. His words, like his accompanying music, harmonically trail and encircle in a diversely rapturous infinity of directions, interpretations and receptions. Most seductively, they leave the listener wanting more.

Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright invites listeners, new and fanatic, to strengthen their bond to a cherished contemporary voice. Soul, truth and the pop mix blow through the ear like a clear sky, the whisper of a wishing well on a lazy Friday afternoon, the empty conch-shell’s cry, burning through the spring air. But enough said — wordlessly, Wainwright’s uncategorized self-reflections on the theme of notes and beats stir the roots of popular musical grandeur. With a new song, “Me and Liza,” and a bonus disc chock-full of rare live and studio tracks, Wainwright’s opening himself up ever more. All who have been once entranced by the delicacy of his vibe await his second opera, to be produced by the Canadian Opera Company, premiering in Toronto in 2018.

By Matt Hanson


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