Album: Leonard Cohen, The Complete Studio Albums Collection (Sony Legacy)

 

Phil Spector may have been able to find the most dramatic settings for some voices, but he met his match in Leonard Cohen's lugubrious baritone: the album they made together, Death Of A Ladies' Man, remains Cohen's least listenable, described by the singer himself as "grotesque", his voice a desperate hostage to the echoey-dungeon arrangements.

And framing what Cohen ironically referred to as his "gift of a golden voice" remains the secret to his most successful work, from the ingenious and subtle touches of oud, harpsichord and jew's harp with which John Simon tinted the singer's thrumming guitar work on his debut, through Bob Johnston's elegant balancing-act of absurdity and funereal sombreness on Songs Of Love And Hate, to Cohen's own blend of synths and strings on I'm Your Man. This 11CD set provides a pleasing illustration of the way in which world-weary irony has helped Cohen's worldview mature.

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