Rufus Wainwright Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

Rufus Wainwright Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets
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Rufus Wainwright has always had a knack for weaving together technicolour dreamscapes and Willy Wonka-esque funhouse worlds, and this latest album, Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets puts his penchant for the theatrical front and centre.
 
Each track features Shakespearean sonnets (some sonnets appear in more than one track), spoken and sung by Hollywood personalities like Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, Siân Phillips and Helena Bonham Carter, classical singers Anna Prohaska and Fiora Cutler, pop singers Frally Hynes and Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) and Wainwright's sister, Martha Wainwright. Lush orchestration brings the poetry to life, as does the incredible sound quality Deutsche Grammophon is famous for. With the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin String Section in tow, the whole album has a decidedly classical feel until halfway through.
 
Then, "Unperfect Actor" hits right between the eyes with huge electric guitar and drums, driving the album into operatic rock territory, "When In Disgrace" drifts into the ethereal pop clouds and Sonnet 66, translated into German ("Al Dessen Müd"), blurts out a dark oompah stomp.
 
The one element largely absent from this record, however, is Wainwright himself. His signature vocals only make an appearance on five tracks, leaving you wanting more. Of course, Wainwright composed the entire album, so he makes his genius felt throughout, but fans looking for a Rufus Wainwright album might find it disappointing that he doesn't handle more of the singing.
 
Still, this recording is a great addition to his musical catalogue, and a fine way to fall in love with Shakespeare all over again, to boot. (Deutsche Grammophon)