Album Reviews

Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker – Album Review

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Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker – Album Review by Killian Laher

There’s been much talk of Leonard Cohen’s mortality ahead of the release of his 14th album, precipitated by the death of former muse Marianne Ihlen (So Long, Marianne), the fact that he celebrated his 82nd birthday last month, not to mention the many high-profile deaths in 2016. Interestingly, it’s his third album in the last five years, and with a title like You Want It Darker there’s a sense of foreboding about it. In truth, it’s not that much darker than his most recent albums, it very much follows a similar template. Songs are almost hymnal, particularly the opening title track where Cohen doesn’t so much sing as growl from the pit of his stomach “I’m ready my Lord”.

Treaty feels like the centrepiece, with a melody very reminiscent of Anthem from Cohen’s 1992 album The Future. In keeping with his recent material, the music is understated, piano and keyboards with occasional strings, backing vocals here and there, allowing Cohen’s deep voice to dominate. A voice that at times sounds extremely weary, especially on Leaving the Table.

When the formula is varied it works well. Bouzouki and mandolin combine very pleasingly with catchy backing vocals on Travelling Light, while It Seemed The Better Way features a prominent violin to fine effect. The string-driven Steer Your Way redefines the word stately in music, it’s as tasteful and classy as the man who wrote it.

It’s not a whole lot different from his two most recent albums, 2012’s Old Ideas and 2014’s Popular Problems, so anybody who enjoyed those will likely enjoy this too. There’s no real standout track, nothing that compares with the best of his work. But if you want a fresh slice of L. Cohen, this will do fine.

Track List:

1. You Want It Darker
2. Treaty
3. On the Level
4. Leaving the Table
5. If I Didn’t Have Your Love
6. Travelling Light
7. It Seemed The Better Way
8. Steer Your Way
9. String Reprise/Treaty

 

You Want It Darker:

 

 

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Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music

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