By Leah Greenblatt
October 14, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Advertisement
Image

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.

Comments