The list of well-known musical progeny is long and varied, but how many children manage to usurp the fame and popularity of their parents? While the likes of Jakob Dylan, Sean Lennon and Harper Simon struggle to free themselves from their parental shackles, others flourish.
Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright, to give him his full title, is one of them. Since his first confident strides into the world of music with 1998’s eponymous debut, the Montreal-raised musician has established himself not only as an artist in his own right, but one of the finest songwriters of his generation.
Wainwright has never really troubled the upper echelons of most mainstream charts. He would be vaguely familiar to the uninitiated thanks to his presence on the Shrek soundtrack (a cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah , included here).
Despite some inevitable omissions, Vibrate is a faithful survey of the now 40-year-old's career, from the lush piano and strings-based pop of his early material ( Foolish Love, April Fools with sister Martha on backing vocals, Grey Gardens ) through to 2012's Mark Ronson-produced Out of the Game.
The tracks from Want One , Wainwright's 2003 magnum opus, are especially spellbinding for different reasons – from the grandiose baroque pop of I Don't Know What It Is and Go or Go Ahead to the heartrending Dinner at Eight , one of the finest father-son songs ever committed to tape. The simplicity of his simple piano ballad The Art Teacher (culled from 2004's Want Two ) beautifully showcases Wainwright's rich, swarthy voice, a characteristic that continues to define his music today, as heard on a new song, Me and Liza .
Whether serving as an introduction to an exceptional songwriter or as a memory-jogger for lapsed fans, Vibrate is an illuminating collection. rufuswainwright.com
Download: The Art Teacher, Go or Go Ahead, Foolish Love