Bless craggy Leonard Cohen, the enigma, the romantic, the religious pervert in sackcloth and tailored suits, the servant of Montreal, the Juddhist. Bless him for his arrogance and his humility, and for opening the doors of the permissible and making the unthinkable possible. Cohen took the Old Testament, cold razor blades, liberal quantities of sex, and a brutal mocking honesty, and turned them all into song, a 37-year succession of waltzes, tangos and dirges. There's never been anybody like Lucky Lenny, as we used to call him.
The new album is fine, aged in ancient angst and merriment, smartly produced, partly spoken, some parts thick with women's voices and vibes and saxophones. Cohen has brought in some partners in his latest caper -- Lord Byron, Qubecois poet and socialist F.R. Scott, and composer/singer/musician Anjani Thomas, who has worked with Cohen for some years now. The World Trade Center takes center stage on "On That Day," and even Pee Wee King climbs in at the end of the disc, when Cohen covers "The Tennessee Waltz," with an additional verse. Cohen fans, you know who you are. Come and get it.
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