Leonard Cohen

Recent Songs - Columbia 1979

Tracks: 1. The Guests / 2. Humbled in Love / 3. The Window / 4. Came So Far for Beauty / 5. The Lost Canadian (Un Canadien Errant) / 6. The Traitor / 7. Our Lady of Solitude / 8. The Gypsy's Wife / 9. The Smokey Life / 10. Ballad of the Absent Mare


“Recent Songs” from 1979 was for Leonard Cohen a comeback to form after the greatly disappointing “Death of a Ladies Man” and also the last album he recorded before his voice transformed into the gravely sound which has since been a kind of trademark for him. The arrangements are all very tasteful most of them predominantly acoustic and the music though based in different genres is basically a return to his approach on albums like "New Skin for the Old Ceremony" and "Songs of Love and Hate"

"The Guests" is both great, due to the fine chorus on which Cohen is assisted by Jennifer Warnes, and dark and somewhat daunting because of the apocalyptic lyrics. Clearly one of the real strong songs on the album. "Humbled in Love" is musically a different number; funky and with a chorus that takes away some of the darkness of the otherwise somewhat gloomy lyrics. "The Window" is the next highlight , again a song with a beautiful chorus sung by Jennifer Warnes. "Came so Far for Beauty" is a quiet jazz ballad, okay but also a bit ordinary .

The old historical song from the 1800's "The Lost Canadian " sung in French, is in many ways very different track - whatever you may feel about Cohen's choice to include it on his album, one must recognize it for beautiful melody; which Cohen actually returned to on the "Dear Heather" album – writing new lyrcis and giving it the title "The Faith". "The Traitor" is a quiet song with many metaphors and dealing with a lovers relationship that ends being only sexual connection.

"Our Lady of Solitude" is yet a quiet song - hardly one "Recent Songs" will be remembered for. "The Gypsy 's Wife" is a bit more catchy due to the repeating of the last line of the verse - a song that could have been from one of Cohen's most earliest albums . "The Smokey Life" is a light and quiet jazzy duet with Jennifer Warnes – it’s always a pleasure when Warnes sings harmonies with Cohen. The album closes with one of the lengthier tracks - "Ballad of the Absent Mare” which never really has come through to me.

A fine album which rounds up the early part of Cohen’s career.

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