All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu finds singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright stripping back the operatic flourishes of his 2007 album Release the Stars to deliver a stark and deeply personal collection of songs. Where Stars often featured large backing ensemble arrangements, here Wainwright simply accompanies himself on piano, allowing the lyrics of these poetic, introspective songs and his voice to take the spotlight. Never one to shirk away from cerebral and conceptual artistic endeavors, Wainwright has adapted three Shakespeare sonnets here that work quite well as ruminative, classically impressionistic-style pieces. Elsewhere, tracks like "Who Are You New York" and "Sad with What I Have" feature Wainwright's longstanding knack for clever and ironic turns of phrase. Obviously, the memory of Wainwright's mother, Kate McGarrigle, who died in 2010 after an extended illness, hangs heavy throughout the album. It is clear that Wainwright wrote and recorded much of All Days Are Nights during her illness, and themes of loss, depression, and sadness permeate these songs. Wainwright addresses this directly in "Martha," a yearning plea to his sister, singer/songwriter Martha Wainwright, to whom he also dedicates the album. Wainwright sings, "Martha it's your brother calling. Time to go up north and see mother. Things are harder for her now and neither of us is really that much older than each other anymore." The song, as with most of of All Days Are Nights, is a bold, absolutely emotionally naked statement that still retains Wainwright's devastating talent for artful, universally compelling songcraft.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar