Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker by Jason Anderson, published in the Nov 2016 edition of Uncut (also see Uncut Names Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker Album Of The Month), is the first full review of Leonard Cohen’s new album available to fans. It is thoughtful, well written, and informative, and I urge viewers to read the entire article. But because it is not currently online, I have chosen a few excerpts that offer insight into the album
The Faint Praise Issue
First, however, I have to admit that, while I appreciate Cohencentric being mentioned in the first part of the review, I am a tad miffed about the specific language:
He [Leonard Cohen] was reportedly amused by the site’s [Cohencentric’s] doctored version of the image, with the offending cancer stick replaced by a bunch of asparagus.
Here’s the pertinent section from Leonard Cohen Explains Cigarette He’s Holding On His You Want It Darker Album Cover:
That brings us up to the email Leonard sent DrHGuy about that alternative cover. In addition to a gracious compliment, “Why didn’t I think of Healthier? So funny!” he explained
It is an unlit cigarette
An instructive gimmick
for those who want to quit
I recommend it
Thus, we find that Uncut has transformed a direct Leonard Cohen quotation, “So funny,” into “reportedly amused.” Now, that’s just sad.
The You Want It Darker Critique
More to the point, consider these observations:
… with its spare but perfectly judged arrangements, its alternately sepulchral and mordant nature and its lack of the more contemporary trappings of recent predecessors, the album [You Want It Darker] reflects the music he [Leonard Cohen] made back when he clearly didn’t give a toss who saw him smoking on an album cover. Exquisitely crafted, You Want It Darker follows a snaky line back to Songs Of Love And Hate (1971) and New Skin For The Old Ceremony (1974) …
… the adornments here recall the kind favoured by Paul Buckmaster and John Lissauer on Cohen’s early ’70s recordings. That’s a far cry from the starker sensibility of his late ’60s albums with Bob Johnston, his overstuffed musical misadventures with Phil Spector on Death Of A Ladies’ Man in 1977, and – perhaps most dramatically – the emblems of high-gloss modernity he’s preferred in the last three decades or so.
What’s remarkable about You Want It Darker is how it melds that earlier aesthetic with the same time-tempered outlook of the man he is in his ninth decade…
By contrast, even the best songs on Popular Problems and Old Ideas can seem unnecessarily cluttered.
Credit Due Department: Thanks to Dave Curless, who alerted me to to this review.
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