The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Review

artist: Leonard Cohen date: 04/22/2009 category: compact discs
Leonard Cohen: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen
Release Date: 1968
Label: Columbia
Genres: Pop, Folk-Pop, Folk-Rock
Number Of Tracks: 10
Many artists work their whole career to create a work as singular and accomplished as Songs of Leonard Cohen, and Cohen worked this alchemy the first time he entered a recording studio; few musicians have ever created a more remarkable or enduring debut.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.5
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reviews (2) user comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.7
The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Reviewed by: robotcar, on january 30, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 7

Lyrics: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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). // 9

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overall: 9.7
The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Reviewed by: iamjosh, on april 22, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Songs of Leonard Cohen is sonically, solidly rooted in the 1960's folk music. The songs are driven by Cohen's intricate acoustic guitar work and his fragile voice, the latter of which all at once seems in and out of tune. Cohen's guitar style largely consists of complex, fingerpicking influenced by Eastern European folk music backing chorusless stanzas. Backing Cohen are sparse strings, horns, and electric guitars. Cohen's intent was to record the entire album as a solo acoustic piece, with no musicians but himself; during recording, he fought bitterly with the producer, who wanted more lush production. The happy result of this conflict is a beautiful and experimental folk sound that brings Cohen's voice (more importantly, his lyrics) and guitar work to the forefront of the music, backed with unobtrusive orchestras and choirs. // 9

Lyrics: Cohen was a well-recognized poet long before he was a songwriter; by the time this, his first album, was released, he had published several collections of poetry. Cohen by now recognized as one of the best lyricists of our time, dissecting interpersonal relationships, often revealing their perverse and painful elements. Cohen is lyrically at his most powerful on the emotional "The Stranger Song", where describes a promising relationship that never begins: "Leaning on your windowsill/he'll say one day you caused his will/to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter". The album ends with the album's most lyrically complex song, "One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong": "I took the dust of a long, sleepless night/and I put it in your little shoe/And then I confess that I tortured the dress/You wore for the world to look through" laments Cohen, as he describes a marriage imploding in on itself. Of course, these interpretations are my own -- any verbophile will enjoy creating their own interpretation of Cohen's songs. // 10

Overall Impression: This album has taken it's place in history as a pinnacle of folk music. Cohen's musical and lyrical style has been unmatched by any other artist. The list of artists influenced by this album could make a Christo work out of the Statue of Liberty. To be quite blunt, you should have this album. It contains several of Cohen's best known songs, such as "Suzanne", "So Long, Marianne", and "Sisters of Mercy", and is a great introduction to his general body of work, though fans who are more familiar with his later work will notice that his trademark gravely bass-baritone had not yet developed. This was the beginning of a prolific and distinguished career, which has led Cohen to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. If that surprises you, perhaps you better give this album a spin and find out why. If not, you probably already have heard this album. // 10

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