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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 30, 2010

Wainwright gets personal, poignant with 'All Days'

By Ryan Mclendon
Associated Press

After a three-year absence, Rufus Wainwright is back with a vengeance. A subdued, gentle vengeance. His latest effort, "All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu," is the best album he's crafted since 2001's "Poses." Pairing his rich, mellifluous vocals over cheerless piano chords, Wainwright treats us to a private concert and an emotional buffet.

With "All Days Are Nights," Wainwright shirks off the pop shackles "Poses" imposed and instead takes up the mantle of a weathered piano man delivering a hyper-personal battery of tracks that are part show tune, part torch song.

From slow and somber numbers to bright and quick medleys, Wainwright uses his threefold arsenal of vocals, keys and lyrical prowess to create a new genre of deliciously sounding and largely macabre classical tracks. Think Billy Joel's chops meets Courtney Love's self-loathing.

Wainwright's show-stopping tunes soar to new heights with the meteoric ascending scales of the album's opener, "Who Are You New York?," a poignant ode to a two-faced city that can embrace and cast out in the same gesture. From the subway platform to Madison Square Garden, no one is immune from the chill of loneliness and despair New York City can impose.

And "Sad With What I Have" is the perfect sonic mixer for a whiskey neat in piano lounge on the worst day of your life. Wainwright's ability to tap into the most dismal recesses of the human experience is both heartbreaking and captivating.

CHECK THIS OUT: Referencing sister and singer Martha Wainwright, "Martha" is a strange entreaty with his sister to contact him as the health of their parents decline (his mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle, died this year). The torturous tone of Wainwright's voice as he sings "It's your brother calling, Martha, please call me back," is a powerful enough to draw tears.