Having been sat around at home feeling ill all of today, I thought, what better time to review the new Leonard Cohen album?
Popular conception has it that if you're having a bad day you listen to Leonard Cohen and then realise that nobody can have it quite as bad as him. There's a chink in everything, and even in the darkness from which he crafts his songs, some sunlight gets in. The dark humour and bare, acoustic, naked style seemed to work in his favour.
In the past ten years since he made "The Future" it seems as Leonard has finally lost his talent. Shame. But then again, looking at the production credits on the CD it looks as if all he did was write ten sets of lyrics and fax a vocal in from a rooftop monastery.
He hasn't put his name to an album this awful since 1977's Spector-produced semi-Motown "Death Of A Lady's Man" where every ounce of his talent was saturated in hopelessly inappropriate strings.
There are good points to the record - Cohen's astonishing and powerful voice, which was always previously complemented by the music. And the lyrics. Cohen's lyrics achieve a style and potency that nobody comes even close to - semi-biblical tales of love lost and longing that reverberate deep into your heart. Nobody writes lyrics as good as Lenny. "In My Secret Life", a dissection of the alternate universe where he lives a fantasy world with a departed lover, is as accurate a tale of heartbreak as anything recorded by any human since the invention of the gramophone.
However, the impression I get is that someone has persuaded Leonard to make this CD with the minimum of effort on his part, and that's where it fails. Someone called Sharon Robinson (who?) produced and wrote all the below par,cheaply recorded sub-demo mogadon-paced backing music, contributed vocals to every song, and generally ran the show. It sounds like a bunch of half-assed, unfinished demos with cheap production values and bad mixing. Unfortunately, it sounds as if the backing music was xeroxed in from a Speak'N'Spell in 1981.
The world needs another Leonard Cohen record - artists of his talent and ability are rare. Unfortunately this isn't it. He's a guest vocalist on a Sharon Robinson album in all but name, and that's a waste. Don't pay money for this, I didn't.
6Mark Reed's Score