The Times, UK
October 9, 2001

The Quick and the Deafening

by David Sinclair

Contributed by Liz Madder

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...It would be hard to imagine a more secure refuge from all this high-velocity angst than Ten New Songs, the latest album by Leonard Cohen. Now here's a man who knows the value of the measured tempo, and sure enough, the pulse rate never rises above a restful slumber. Having set no traps for himself in his youth, Cohen, now 67, is free to proceed in much the same manner as he always has without sacrificing an ounce of credibility.

Joined by singer Sharon Robinson, with whom all the songs were co-written, he wends his lugubrious way through yet more catacombs of gloom while retaining a wry sense of humour. "I fought against the bottle / But I had to do it drunk," he growls in "That Don't Make It Junk." And on "Alexandra Leaving," where he sings of the god of love preparing to "slip between the sentries of the heart", he touches a chord of such sweet sorrow that you can almost taste the salt of tears on his lips.

Ten New Songs is unlikely to win any converts to the Cohen cause. It is, though, an eloquent riposte to the critic who asked, 30 years ago, if anything could be done to save us from "this boring old drone". Thankfully, not.

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