A songwriting legend returns to the studio, while a Internet sensation tries to prove she’s more than a YouTube fluke.
Add It To The Collection – At 77 years of age Leonard Cohen should be sitting on a beach somewhere enjoying retirement. Finding himself practically broke a few years back after being defrauded by his manager, Cohen went back on the road and literally found his voice again. Following a string of successful gigs, Cohen delivers Old Ideas, an appropriate title for this collection of ten songs that have the Montrealer revisiting the themes of love, life, loss, religion and, as can be expected at his age, regret. The voice, if you can believe it, is deeper, raspier and at times barely audible as a breath croaked over a simple melody. While the music is basic, when mixed with Cohen’s words and delivery there is an edginess that harkens back to his best work. It’s like you know what the next line will be but you almost don’t want to hear it because of the bitter truth it holds. Must Have Track: Clocking in at more than seven minutes, “Amen” is the centrepiece of the album. Cohen spends the time well getting increasingly aggravated as the ‘Tell Me Again’ refrain leads to a series of questions about when things will get better, where they went wrong and who’s to blame. It’s classic Cohen and could be considered a loose follow-up or compliment to perhaps his best know track, “Hallelujah”.
Skip It — A major media firestorm was created a few weeks back when Lana Del Ray performed two songs on Saturday Night Live. I haven’t seen the performances, but apparently Del Ray’s vocals and performance style didn’t resonate as everyone from NBC news anchor Brian Williams to Juliette Lewis lined up to take shots at the 25-year-old New Yorker. Quick to defend Del Ray was one time ‘next big thing’ Liz Phair in an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal – you can read Phair’s piece here. As Phair writes, the controversy has done a lot to raise the profile of Del Ray and get her noticed. It’s why I decided to take a listen to her official full-length debut, titled Born To Die. The album is a slow burn of moody echo and what appears to be the story or an angst-filled lover scorned. However, unlike Adele on her breakout release, 21, Del Ray doesn’t come across as authentic – never mind not nearly as talented in the vocal department. It’s almost like Del Ray – real name Elizabeth “Lizzy” Grant and daughter of a wealthy internet tycoon – is playing a role on Born To Die. From her physical image to her vocal style and live appearances it’s hard to tell exactly what she’s all about, but one thing is for sure, for someone with limited ability, she’s getting a ton of attention.