I’ve always enjoyed Rufus Wainwright’s rococo extravagances on disc, but All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is the intimate, unadorned album I’ve hoped for—just piano and Wainwright’s voice, which resembles a cello, with its fine grain and dark timbre.
These nakedly emotional nocturnes describe a particularly eventful year, which included the deep-end debut of his first opera, Prima Donna (in French), and the death of his mother, the folk-music eminence Kate McGarrigle.
As such, All Days is not upbeat—in fact, it’s mopier than Morrissey—which is not in itself a failing. If you’re not okay with more than a touch of melancholy, this is probably not for you.
Here’s a chance to hear Wainwright working out at the piano, sigh-singing in three languages: English, French and Shakespeare. The winding melody of “Martha” is a direct plea to his sister, singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, to pick up the phone and deal with the family’s troubles; “Les Feux D’Artifice T’Appellent” is the concluding aria of Prima Donna.