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Barry J. Holmes

Rufus Wainwright returns to form with his well-balanced new album.

Rufus Wainwright’s new album, Out of the Game (Decca Records, $13), is a homecoming of sorts. The disc brings the critically acclaimed singer-?songwriter back to the pop-music world after several years spent penning operas and classical pieces and working on conceptual projects like his re-creation of Judy Garland’s famed 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.

“Working in the classical idiom for a while gave me both a respect and also a slight disdain for the strict nature of how that world works,” he says, before adding with a laugh, “It felt like it was high time to let loose and just enjoy my day job, which is being a pop sensation — in my own mind, anyway.”

Wainwright enlisted a variety of players to guest, including Wilco’s Nels Cline, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and Brooklyn soul combo the Dap-Kings. Notably, the record also finds Wainwright working with white-hot English producer Mark Ronson, who has collaborated with Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. “For a while I was pinching? myself, wondering why he would even be ?interested in [working with] me,” ?Wainwright says. “But by the third or fourth day, I was assured of his intentions and really felt such a tremendous amount of love from him, both as a person and as an artist. It ended up being this great bromance.”

The songs on Out of the Game reflect several recent momentous changes in ?Wainwright’s life, including his engagement to partner Jorn Weisbrodt; the birth of his daughter, Viva; and the death of his mother,? noted singer-?songwriter Kate McGarrigle. Though he’s been known as a doyen of depression, ?Wainwright thinks he’s found the right balance to his work.

“Admittedly, I will probably always have an arch, depressed angle to what I do,” he says. “I tend to be someone who seeks out drama in my life. That being said, with this album the ingredients are well proportioned; there’s a little bit of everything. I’m happy that I’m finally at that point in my life where I can feel the gamut of emotions that are up for offer.”