Sound — 7
This truly is an album that must be listened to over and over again before it can really sink in. Upon first listen, it is monotonous sometimes and just plain annoying at others. Leonard Cohen is overall an amazing songwriter and emotional singer. While, yes, his voice is flat, low, and scratchy in that way that is so uniquely cool, he conveys the emotion of his songs and gives them personality. At the time that Cohen wrote this album, he was living in New York and it is said that he spent more than 2 years writing certain songs on this album. He went into the studio and recorded them in 2 days and mixed the final tracks on the third. It is in large part, a so-called "singer/songwriter" record but it goes far deeper than that. This is a man's soul laid bare on 33" of vynil plastic. This is beauty in it's rawest form.
Lyrics — 10
While Cohen's sound is not always pleasing to the ears, his lyrics always carry that poetic beauty that made Dylan and Springsteen stars. Memorable lines such as "he was just some Joseph looking for a manger" speed through your mind at such a rapid pace that they're left bouncing around until you can catch them (which can take weeks). He is famous as a lyricist but is highly underrated and unknown. It seems he missed the Dylan deadline that happened a few years before this debut album's release.
Overall Impression — 9
When you compare this album to Cohen's later acoustic works such as "Songs of Love and Hate" and "New Sking For The Old Ceremony", and his '80s mellow synthesizer albums "The Future" and "Various Positions" (which contained his most famous song "Hallelujah" which was later covered by Jeff Buckley who found great success with it), it blows the rest away with its raw simplicity and familiar yet fresh sounds. The best songs contained here are by far, "The Stranger Song", "Suzanne", and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" which all illustrate his fantastic writing skills and his musical knowledge (however uncouth).