Rufus Wainwright's 6th studio album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is an emotional stripped back affair, as can be expected from an artist who lost his mother (folk singer Kate McGarrigle) whilst recording it:
"What was going on inside was just so tumultuous and so hairy that it just came out whether I liked it or not. Especially dealing with my mother's health at the time," he explained.
"She's since passed away but at the time I was writing this she was really up and down. She had incredible moments of vitality matched with equally depressing times. I had to do this kind of work."
Folk heavyweight Richard Thompson is curator of this year's Meltdown festival at London's Southbank Centre, and Rufus has told 6 Music that a tribute to his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and passed away in January of this year, is on the cards: "A lot of people are coming in for that. One of the artists that I can mention for sure is the wonderful Richard Thompson and apparently his first request was to do something for Kate so I was very very touched by that."
Rufus will no doubt be there with his sister, singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, he says going through his mother's back catalogue has opened his eyes to the powerful legacy that the siblings have: "Diving into her material and realising how unique and powerful and effective the McGarrigle sisters were in both their songs and their recordings."
"I love opulence still and I've got this opera going on at the same time and I'm sure to return to that island, the island of opulence."
The album has seen Rufus concentrate on the piano, something which he admits was daunting: "I've been wondering a long time how good I actually was at the piano. I definitely have a nice touch in terms of slow easy pieces and technically I've done some interesting things in the past but I'd never really faced that dragon that is my instrument.
"So I wanted to just do that for myself to get that down. And I did it, I think, I hope."
Another reason for sticking to the piano for this record was one of security: "It was a natural reaction to all the tumultuous and grandiose events happening in my life, whether it was my mother's health or the opera or working with Robert Wilson in Germany.
"I had all of these major projects going on and the piano was really the only place I could be alone. It was the only power I had to say to everybody, look get out of the room, this is my time. So I just gravitated towards the instrument a lot as a form of protection really and solace."
Rufus says he is also simply surviving and reflecting the current economic climate: "We're in a recession, some would even say a depression, and everything's being scaled back, and I think one of the most important things for a songwriter or a musician is survival and to be able to adapt to newfound situations so I'm doing my duty now as a survivalist."
With his opera Prima Donna opening at Sadler's Wells on the 12 April Rufus says he will return to the world of the big spender at some stage: "I love opulence still and I've got this opera going on at the same time and I'm sure to return to that island, the island of opulence.
"But in terms of touring and making some money, because it is a lot more cost effective for me to go out and tour alone. I felt the need to protect myself financially in this time."
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is out in the UK on 5 April.
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