Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker
With his fourteenth studio album, Leonard Cohen releases You Want It Darker.
Leonard Cohen’s recording career spans just shy of 50 years. His published poetry and novels have stretched across six decades. His film and television career has lasted equally long. Thanks to a corrupt manager, Cohen has navigated lawsuits and financial troubles. What is the point of this trip down memory lane? He’s experienced a lot during his 82 years. Yes, I realize that sounds absurd, but who would believe he could pack so much of it in one album?
You Want It Darker comes exactly as billed. The title track is an ominous offering which features a simple bass line keeping time with a kick drum & hi-hat. His baritone resonates deep before the choir background as the (I assume) Wurlitzer organ fills the gaps. The title track also clues us in on the themes he wants to showcase throughout the album – God, the angels, and The Devil. Some of these topics he explores through the prism of personal relationships, while others are more literal.
With only a couple exceptions, instrumentation on this album generally takes a backseat as Cohen’s vocals take the wheel. Tempos are moderate. Melodies are simple without being boring. It sounds like he just invited a few musicians over to his house for cocktails and a low-key jam session. The room is dimly lit. Smoke wafts and billows around the room. Someone begins a beat or riff and continues until, one by one, the rest join. And so it goes until just before dawn.