Leonard Cohen - Recent Songs - 4.5/5
For my second review I have chosen one of my all-time favourite albums. One of the reasons for this is that I wanted to provide the good folks of Lifer a gate into another side of the musical spectrum - lyrically-based Folk Music - while also getting a chance to listen to this great album again. I`m still struggling to describe exactly what I`m hearing but, if you`ll bear with me:
It kicks off with "The Guests", a song which immediately creates that wonderfully melancholic atmosphere that I have come to love and expect of Leonard Cohen. From the start of the album the listener is taken on a trip of Cohen`s memory to look at the sorrowful ruins and jolly carnivals that occupy this almost disturbed man`s mind. Aided by a very minimalistic instrumental approach, the album creates a perfect atmosphere for the listener to regard the lyrics in.
Most of the album consists of a deep, almost gutteral bass-sound, a few light notes played on the guitar, an electric organ and Cohens voice, telling of his loves and losses. In most of the songs there are additional instruments, i.e. a mariachi band in "The Ballad of the Absent Mare" and a violin in "The Guests", but the backbone of the album is clearly the almost exaggerated bass and Cohen`s own guitarring and vocals. I find that to be pretty sufficient to describe the musical aspect of the album, because spending too much time on the music doesn`t do justice to what I think is actually the central focus of this creation: the lyrical aspect.
From tales of heartbreak ("The Traitor") to the story of a lost Canadian boy ("Un Canadien Errant"), Cohen takes us on a mental ride of emotions: love, death, fear, sadness, joy and regret. Where one will be forced to want to get up and dance at the start of "Un Canadien Errant", you will shortly procede to weep on Cohen`s behalf in "The Gypsy`s Wife" and equally abruptly become relaxed and quiet when he starts reminiscing on his life in "The Smokey Life", aided by a smooth electric piano. I would heartily advise all listeners to get the lyrics and follow them if they expect to get the full impact.
What saddens me is the fact that most people immediately turn off the music when they realise that there is no adrenaline rush to be gotten from listening to this and never realise just what it is they are actually missing. Do yourself a favour and spend the 53 minutes to listen to this long, boring, deppressive... masterpiece.
Highlights: Came So Far for Beauty, Ballad of the Absent Mare.