by Anthony Kershaw
The twelve songs follow Wainwright’s usual autobiographical inspirations; family, life, love, needs. The songs are influenced by some of his favourite composers — Schubert (listen to the accompaniment of ”Who Are You New York?” — images of Schubert’s great song, Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel are front and center), Debussy (Les feux d’artifice t’appellent”), Messiaen (”Zebulon”) and Alban Berg (”Sonnet 43″).
“Martha” is an improvisational, conversational delight (”Martha, it’s your brother calling”) between Wainwright and his singer/songwriter sister. “Sad with What I Have” imitates his earlier ‘Natasha” and “Vibrate”. The pathos Wainwright manages in his songs is powerful. His nasal and ultra expressive voice in this type of song conveys fragility and vulnerability. It can be intoxicating. Wainwright’s flawless pitch and exquisite phrasing helps.
As I listened further, I thought of Lieder recitals. The album is classically infused by the aforementioned composers and I imagined Wainwright in tailored tails, delicate right hand on the piano singing his heart out for an appreciative audience. The songs’ qualities and the superb performances befit that milieu. Easily.
The voice and piano are miked closely emphasizing the intimacy. There is a pleasant reverb around the piano but not enough to blur the complicated lines when Wainwright makes things exciting.
The songs are not as outlandish or camp as the masterpieces on albums Want One and Want Two. The introspection is where the heart is on All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu. Please purchase with that in mind. For fans of beautifully constructed songs and musical artistry, recommended. For Rufus fans, highly recommended.
All songs written by Wainwright, unless otherwise noted.
“Who Are You New York?” – 3:42
“Sad with What I Have” – 3:06
“Martha” – 3:11
“Give Me What I Want and Give It to Me Now!” – 2:09
“True Loves” – 3:51
“Sonnet 43″ (William Shakespeare, Wainwright) – 4:27
“Sonnet 20″ (Shakespeare, Wainwright) – 2:59
“Sonnet 10″ (Shakespeare, Wainwright) – 2:54
“The Dream” – 5:26
“What Would I Ever Do with a Rose?” – 4:21
“Les feux d’artifice t’appellent” (Wainwright, Bernadette Colomine) – 5:57
“Zebulon” – 5:38
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Total time: 45:01