Rufus Wainwright Enlists David Byrne, Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow & More For New Album ‘Folkocracy’

Watch the music video for “Down In The Willow Garden” featuring footage of Rufus and Brandi in the studio.

By Nate Todd Mar 7, 2023 10:43 am PST

Rufus Wainwright announced a new guest-filled covers album, Folkocracy, featuring David Byrne, Sheryl Crow, John Legend and more. Wainwright previewed the LP of folk classics, due out on June 2 via BMG, with “Down In The Willow Garden” featuring Brandi Carlile.

Wainwright also enlisted Nicole Scherzinger, Chaka Khan, Andrew Bird, ANOHNI, Susanna Hoffs, Van Dyke Parks, Madison Cunningham and more to contribute to the album. The record arrives in June as Wainwright gets ready to celebrate his 50th birthday.

“This album is almost like a recorded birthday party and birthday present to myself,” Wainwright said. “I just invited all the singers that I greatly admire and always wanted to sing with.”

Additionally, Folkocracy sees Rufus nodding to his famed folk-singer family.

“The older I get, the more I appreciate how valuable my folk knowledge is, to have had it ingrained in me as a child,” Wainwright noted. “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.”

The record also sees a number of Rufus’ family members joining him including his sisters Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche . A close family friend, Chaim Tannenbaum, plays Wainwright’s late mother Kate McGarrigle’s banjo on the record.

“I’m so happy mum made it onto the album,” Rufus said. “Without her there would be no Folkocracy.”

The first preview of Folkocracy is murder ballad “Down In The Willow Garden,” which sees Rufus teaming up with Brandi Carlile.

“Singing with Rufus feels like watching birds swirl around together instinctively in flight,” Brandi said. “It’s anticipated but somehow as natural as can be. His voice is so special to me that I hear it sometimes when he’s not even singing with me. I loved every second of flying around in this music with him.”

“Brandi I see a lot, often with Joni Mitchell,” Wainwright added. “I chose us a cheery little number – not! The song is so blatantly brutal and masochistic that I had to sing it with a woman. Sadly, we still live in a violent world. The amazing thing about so many folk songs is that, content wise, they sound very contemporary. Think of the gun crime in the States right now.”

“Down In The Willow Garden” arrived with a music video featuring Wainwright and Carlile in the studio. Watch below:

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Folkocracy Tracklist

  1. Alone (Feat. Madison Cunningham)
  2. Heading for Home (Feat. John Legend)
  3. Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) (Feat. Susanna Hoffs, Chris Stills & Sheryl Crow)
  4. Down in the Willow Garden (Feat. Brandi Carlile)
  5. Shenandoah
  6. Nacht und Träume
  7. Harvest (Feat. Andrew Bird & Chris Stills)
  8. Going to a Town (Feat. ANOHNI)
  9. High on a Rocky Ledge (Feat. David Byrne)
  10. Kaulana Na Pua (Feat. Nicole Scherzinger)
  11. Hush Little Baby (Feat. Martha Wainwright & Lucy Wainwright Roche)
  12. Black Gold (Feat. Van Dyke Parks)
  13. Cotton Eyed Joe (Feat. Chaka Khan)
  14. Arthur McBridge
  15. Wild Mountain Thyme (Feat. Anna McGarrigle, Chaim Tannenbaum, Lily Lanken, Lucy Wainwright Roche, & Martha Wainwright)
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