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Leonard Cohen's 'You Want It Darker': EW Review

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We gave it an A-

You want it darker? There might be none more black than Cohen, the elder statesman of elegant doom. On his 14th studio album, the songwriting maestro—still vital at 82—is a lion in winter, his lyrics heavy with God and sex and death and his legendary voice scraped down to a subterranean rumble. Nearly every one of the nine songs here catalogs some kind of loss, whether it’s romantic love (the hushed strings-and-piano plea “Treaty” and gospel-brushed “On the Level”), youth (the gypsy-ish “Traveling Light” and almost jaunty “Steer Your Way”), or even just the idea of losing (“If I Didn’t Have Your Love”). The production, by his son Adam, is lush but lean: Crisp guitar lines, the steady whispery whisk of percussion, and the occasional orchestral flourish surround vocals that sound like they’ve spent the past six decades in a rock tumbler lined with gravel and mescal. “I don’t need a pardon/There’s no one left to blame,” he intones heavily, halfway through. “I’m leaving the table/I’m out of the game.” But we still have him; hopefully he’ll stay a while longer.

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