While Leonard Cohen, l’œuvre au noir by Michel Hajji Georgiou (L’Orient-Le Jour 22/09/2016) is listed with more than forty other reviews of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker album at Info & Updates: Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker, the original article is in French. Happily, Cohencentric can now offer this review in English thanks to this translation by Michel Hajji Georgiou.
Leonard Cohen’s Nigredo
Michel Hajji Georgiou
L’Orient-Le Jour 22/09/2016
Beirut – Lebanon
For his 82 birthday, yesterday, the Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen offered his audience a new song, “You Want It Darker”, in the perspective of his new eponymous album, which will be released next October 21th and is already available to pre-order on iTunes and other sites.
This 14th studio album, which follows Popular Problems (2014), is already acclaimed as a new masterpiece. The work, consisting of nine new chansons à texte, has indeed already been celebrated as best album of the month by several magazines.
The song of the same name that announces the rest of the album, You Want It Darker (partly featured on the soundtrack of the last season of Peaky Blinders and which is available in its entirety on the following link) is particularly dark, and seems to set the scene for a post-apocalyptic world, which evokes, with even darker tones, the already chthonic accents of the song “The Future” (1992) – but also disillusioned compositions from his previous album like “Nevermind” or “Party’s over”.
In 1991, the collapse of bipolarity and the debut of the “new world order” had been interpreted with anguish by Montreal’s poet as an “overturn of the order of the soul.” Cohen foresaw very soon, then, the fall of all the old codes of Western civilization, the disintegration of privacy and the uncontainable overflow of globalized violence.
In 2016, this process of disintegration and implosion of the globalized world seems to have ended with “You Want It Darker”. But the voice is deeper, skinned and scratched, as if it was coming out of the abyss. Therefore, the song, minimalist, declaimed on a quasi-recitative style and accompanied by what sounds like Gregorian chant, echoes like an end of the world prayer, or the lament of a convicted man. The first words set the tone: “If you’re the dealer / Let me out of the game / If you are the healer / I am broken and lame / If thine is the glory / Then mine must be the shame / You want it darker / We kill the flame”. The singer then uses Abraham’ formula to tell God that he is ready to return to Him,” Hineni, Hineni, I’m ready My Lord “…
But with Leonard Cohen, the light is never far away, even in the depths of darkness, even at 82 years-old and the weight of age – and his philosopher’s stone is love, in a world where each of his albums seems to accompany a little more the planet’s precis of decomposition we are witnessing every day.
Consequently, it is with great impatience that we will be waiting for this new album – and its prophetic emanations – from the one Joni Mitchell already called in the 70s “the Holy Man on the FM radio.” While rejoicing that this sage between the sages is still around to keep on meditating with us, in words and music, by such somber times.
All information available about You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen is collected and updated at Info & Updates: Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker