March 15, 2001

Test Spins: Leonard Cohen

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Because of his lightly-inflected, folky delivery and sparse arrangements, it might not seem like Leonard Cohen would adapt well to a live setting. But as this disc proves, that judgement is dead wrong.

On the twelve live cuts here, Cohen flawlessly interprets his own material, with backing band Passenger providing a solid, unintrusive bckdrop to Cohen’s longing, emotional vocals. “The Smoky Life” is a slow-burning ballad about forgetting worries. “Lover Lover Lover” portrays Cohen’s comparatively more upbeat and raucous side, with jazzy acoustic fingerpicking and tumbling drums.

Given this songwriter’s background as a respected poet and literary figure, it’s no surprise that his lyrics are excellent. What is something of a pleasant surprise is that the music is of a similarly and consistently high quality.

Archived article by Ed Howard