BBS First Listen: Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

The title track from Cohen's 14th studio album finds him again bringing dignity and beauty to the inevitable defeat...
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Leonard-Cohen-darker.jpgThe great Leonard Cohen gave the world two gifts on his 82nd birthday last week when he announced an October 22nd release date for his new studio album You Want It Darker and made available for streaming and download the title track that day.

He said in a 2011 speech, "As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. What were these instructions? The instructions were never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty."

Welcome to a tale of that inevitable defeat. The narrator is resigned, taking himself out of the equation in a world where love and aid never arrived. The shadow of an unavoidable fate looms ever larger, extinguishing what little light remains.

Cohen's impossibly deep voice is an ideal vessel for his words. The weariness is palpable, the remaining gruffness a hint our hero did not go down without a fight before accepting his fate. A sonorous choir adds an eerie, sinister, mystical ambiance making this struggle seem greater than one man's battle. The music is understated with keyboard and organ and minimal percussion being nudged slowly forward by a pulsing bass line beneath it

The flame may be about to die in the song but it is still burning bright in the heart and mind of Leonard Cohen and You Want It Darker seems poised to be another fine latter-day album from one a legend.