Helsingin Sanomat, Finland
October 12, 2001

The Prophet Came Down from the Mountain

by Harri Uusitorppa

Contributed and translated by Jarkko Arjatsalo

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Leonard Cohen is a genius of depression, grief and misery. He is able to create songs in which those characteristics sound tempting. In spite of that, during the last years we have only been able to turn to Cohen's (67) old psalms, because he has not released any new songs in nine years. He had no dramatic reasons for his silence: Cohen - the man who "doubts all holy men" - lived in a Buddhist monastery for five years.

But now the hero is back, the hero of all romantics who are withering in the gloom. Just like he says: A sip of wine, a cigarette / And then it's time to go / I tidied up the kitchenette / I tuned the old banjo / I'm wanted at the traffic jam. From the musical point of view Ten New Songs is also like an old banjo: the compositions are slow, devout, and hypnotic, although the album also has another author. Sharon Robinson has composed the songs with Cohen and plays the backgrounds on most of them with a synthesizer. Robinson also sings parts of the lyrics with Cohen. It's a shrewd move, musically and dramatically speaking, because in fact Cohen is no longer singing. His voice is even more throaty than it used to be - something that naturally just underlines the impression of depth in these lyrics so full of gallows humor.

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