David Byrne, ANOHNI, John Legend and more feature on Rufus Wainwright’s new album ‘Folkocracy’

“I just invited all the singers that I greatly admire and always wanted to sing with,” said Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright has announced new album ‘Folkocracy’, which will feature guest contributions from David Byrne, ANOHNI, John Legend and more.

The album of folk music reinventions – out June 2 via BMG – marks the artist’s upcoming 50th birthday and also features special guests Brandi Carlile, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, Andrew Bird, Nicole Scherzinger, Susanna Hoffs, Van Dyke Parks and Madison Cunningham.

“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,” Wainwright said in a press statement.


The announcement arrives with lead single ‘Down in the Willow Garden’ featuring Carlile.

Listen to ‘Down in the Willow Garden’ below, and pre-order/pre-save the album here.

“Singing with Rufus feels like watching birds swirl around together instinctively in flight,” Carlile said in a statement. “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.”

Wainwright added: “Brandi I see a lot, often with Joni Mitchell. 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.”

The album is produced with longtime collaborator Mitchell Froom, and serves as the follow-up to 2020’s ‘Unfollow The Rules’.


Album closer ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ features the artist’s sisters, aunt, cousin and close family friend Chaim Tannenbaum on Wainwright’s late mother Kate McGarrigle’s banjo.

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

The artist will celebrate the new album’s release with a one-night-only release day concert at CA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on Friday, June 2, where he will perform with a six-piece band and surprise special guests.

Wainwright is also set to embark on a ‘Folkocracy’ world tour, which will also mark the 25th anniversary of his 1998 self-titled debut album and the 20th anniversary of 2003’s ‘Want One’, along with 2004 companion, ‘Want Two’.

“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 said. “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 tour will kick off at New York’s Beacon Theatre on March 9, with stops across the US, UK and Spain. UK dates include Cheltenham Jazz Festival on April 26 and Cambridge Folk Festival on July 27. You can find the full list of dates here and purchase tickets to US shows here.

Find the album artwork and tracklisting below.

Rufus Wainwright ‘Folkocracy’
Rufus Wainwright ‘Folkocracy’ (CREDIT: Press).

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)

Elsewhere Wainwright performs with Miley Cyrus in the latter’s ‘Endless Summer Vacation (Backyard Sessions)’, which premieres March 10 on Disney+.

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