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Returning to his roots, Rufus Wainwright assembles a premier line-up for 50 year celebration album / RETROPOP

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Affectionately referred to by Elton John as "the greatest songwriter on the planet" and praised by the New York Times for his "genuine originality," Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation.  The New York-born, Montreal-raised singer songwriter has released seven studio albums, three DVDs, and three live albums, including the fantastic Grammy nominated Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall, which captured his celebrated Judy Garland tribute performance at the London Palladium in 2007, and the album Release The Starswhich went Gold in Canada and the U.K. Rufus has received Juno Awards for Best Alternative Album in 1999 and 2002 for Rufus Wainwright and Poses, respectively, and nominations for his albumsWant Two (2005) and Release the Stars (2008). He was nominated for Songwriter of the Year in 2008 for his Release the Stars album. He also composed the original music for choreographer Stephen Petronio's work BLOOM which has toured across the country.

Returning to his folk roots, Rufus Wainwright assembles a premier line-up of big-name collaborators on his 50 year celebration album.

RETROPOP writes……Totalling 15 songs, ‘Folkocracy’ boasts guest appearances from friends including Brandi Carlile, John Legend, David Byrne, Sheryl Crow, Nicole Scherzinger, Chaka Khan, Susanna Hoffs and more, harking back to the childhood summers he spent at folk festivals, watching his famous family on stage.

“The older I get, the more I appreciate how valuable my folk knowledge is, to have had it ingrained in me as a child,” he says. “I’m from a bona fide folkocracy who mixed extensively with other folkocracies such as the Seegers and the Thompsons. I spun off into opera and pop. Now I’m back where it all began.”

It makes for a fitting, full-circle moment and one that feels strikingly personal in spite of the multitude of guest stars that feature across its songs in various capacities, from fully formed duets like the soulful Chaka Khan-featuring Cotton Eyed Joe and John Legend track Heading for Home, to Nicole Scherzinger’s understated backing vocals on Kaulana Na Pua.

Meanwhile an early highlight, Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon), featuring Susanna Hoffs, Chris Stills and Sheryl Crow, is a wall of sound number that unites Rufus and his collaborators with tight harmonies and a driving pace, while his three solo tracks showcase his mastery of the genre and allow his standout vocals to shine.

On the back of his return to pop with 2020’s ‘Unfollow The Rules’, his decision to revert back to his first love is choice, although hardly surprising given where he’s at right now in his life.

As Rufus himself quips: “This album is almost like a recorded birthday party and birthday present to myself. I just invited all the singers that I greatly admire and always wanted to sing with.”

While not the most commercial move, ‘Folkocracy’ is more a personal endeavour and an exploration of the roots of the singer – the son of musicians Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle – as he approaches a key milestone in his life journey.