Dark and Brilliant
Philip J. Brubaker | Chapel Hill, NC United States | 01/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not the kind of album you want to put on when having a cocktail party. It's alone music. But it is a harrowing, brilliant album. Songs of Love and Hate begins with Cohen's trademark flamenco guitar and winds it's way through stark children's choruses and spine-tingling string accompaniments. But Cohen's startling lyrics take center stage. He is a poet on caliber with Bob Dylan. This album is so uncommercial, however, that it is out of print. I got my copy on eBay. The album hits a peak with track 4, "Diamonds In the Mine" a raucous, fun number where Cohen sounds dangerously unhinged. Just as it sounds like he's lost control, we return to his solo acoustic guitar on track 5, "Love Calls You By Your Name." The towering, depressing "Famous Blue Raincoat" is featured on every Cohen retrospective and tribute album (of which there are several). It starts out with the poet intoning, "It's four in the morning, the end of September, I'm writing you now, just to see if you're better..." There's something about being awake at four in the morning. It's not the night, and it's not really the morning either. Most people are not awake at this hour. Only tortured loners like Leonard Cohen. SOLAH concludes with the elegiac "Joan of Arc" which, if you haven't slit your wrists by then, will send you off with the feeling that you have just heard something raw and painfully honest from a great songwriter. The album has a very cohesive quality, as if it could have been recorded all in one night. The mood captured is consistently somber but it has the feeling of a stark, emotional moment in time that was as rare as it was brief."
The Rain Falls Down on Last Year's Man
Jim Doss | Sykesville, MD United States | 02/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first song sets the tone for the album. Avalanche is just what it sounds like... a man's life caving in on top of him sung with bitterness, bile and sarcasm, his trademark guitar propelling the ballad forward, stark and primal. And it only gets better from there. Cohen's voice is raw and powerful on every track, often framed by the celestial chorus of women's voices that offer a sharp contract to his. Well know songs on the CD include Famous Blue Raincoat and Joan of Arc. But the lesser known songs are gems in their own right. Especially gloomy are the self-mocking Last Year's Man and suicidal fantasy Dress Rehearsal Rag, both with brilliant lyrics.
Deservedly the CD continues to grow in stature over the years. This music is sure to be a party killer, but perfect to listen to when you're alone, depressed, angry, smoldering with love and hate.... an anthem to the dark genius of Cohen."