Album: Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas (Columbia)

Given that he's released just 12 albums in 45 years, you might expect Cohen's output to be uniformly essential.

But while Old Ideas boasts words as fine as any he has ever crafted, it also feels like a battle to see which can go deeper, those lyrics or that voice. The songs, such as they can be described as songs, are almost uniformly more affected than affecting. Which is not to say Cohen is not an artist to be treasured, just that Old Ideas may not be entirely essential.

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