Review: Leonard Cohen – ‘You Want It Darker’


A stirring confessional from one of music's all-time greats.

To mark his 82nd birthday, legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen released the title track of his new album, You Want It Darker – and it certainly is darker than the majority of his previous material, giving the disturbing feel of swansong in Cohen’s starkness. Choral incantations of “Hineni,” a Hebrew word meaning “here I am,” are followed by Cohen stating, in his pitch-black pit of a voice, “I’m ready, my Lord.” Fans might be relieved to know that, according to long-time collaborator Patrick Leonard, work has already commenced on You Want It Darker‘s successor, yet there is still something unsettling about the melancholy of this track.

Instrumentally, the work done is minimal and the song sounds rock solid for it. A driving bassline is ushered along by a programmed rock beat, creating the only foundation required for the gravel-tongued maestro alongside Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Hashomayim Synagogue Choir. The honesty is palpable as Cohen admits to “[struggling]with some demons / They were middle-class and tame.” Self-deprecation has long been a strong suit of his, yet in this confessional frame it carries an unprecedented weight, making for some properly stimulating listening.

‘You Want It Darker’ is out now via Columbia


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