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Leonard Cohen: More Best Of


Leonard Cohen

Album: More Best Of
Label: Columbia

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Leonard Cohen has gotten into the habit of making it harder and harder for people to like him. The distressed-steel voice has long been a stumbling block, even for those who recognize his songwriting talent. (It's probably no coincidence that he first became famous through cover versions of his music, and that this decade has seen not one but two Cohen tribute albums.) Though the songwriting excellence has continued, recent years have found Cohen putting his lyrics into increasingly bizarre settings. With heavily produced songs stretching to six minutes and beyond, accompanied by backing vocals that would not seem out of place on a Celine Dion record, Cohen has strayed pretty far from his folk roots. The odd thing is that it often works: On "Closing Time," for instance, the homogenized female backing vocals blend with and highlight Cohen's obtuse, acid lyric and distinctive croon, and while "Everybody Knows" sounds like a folk song dropped into a synth-rock setting, it's not an unhappy marriage of the two. Calling this More Best Of implies that it either picks up where the first, best-selling best-of set left off, or pulls from the same material. In fact, it does neither, gathering tracks only from Cohen's last three albums, including, for traditionalists, Cohen Live. While this may not be the most historically accurate or wide-ranging approach, it ends up producing a decent share of good, odd, unpredictable material.