Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

2016 - Columbia


I have wanted to review this album for a while. When I first started doing my reviews, I had this on the short list to write about. For some reason, it fell off that list and I hadn’t picked it up again until now. I’m not sure why, but I felt a little intimidated to capture this album in in paragraph. The cause of this trepidation is still a bit hazy to me. I’ve written about much more complicated music, albums with similar instrumentation, and even a gravelly voice (Tom Waits). Perhaps it relates to my lack of history with Cohen. I know that there are plenty of musicians, artists, and others who cite him as a main inspiration, but this is the only album of his that I’ve ever listened to. Perhaps the lack of a deep dive into his work made me hesitant to write this. I’m not comparing this to his other work or his trajectory career-wise, I can only view this album as a stand-alone piece. As its own entity, this LP is gorgeous. All the elements mix together (instrumentation, songwriting, arranging, vocals) to create an album that, to me at least, is unique. There are elements of blues, 50’s music, choral, and something (as the name states) darker. There is an undertone to this entire album that is somehow both unnerving and comfortable all at once. Turn the lights off, drop the needle, and let this album take you over.