Songs From A Room - album review

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B4real
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Songs From A Room - album review

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Leonard Cohen - ‘Songs From a Room’

Looking back on the simplicity and intimacy of 'Songs From a Room', the second album from poet-turned-lyricist Leonard Cohen.

https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/leonard-co ... um-review/
Long before Leonard Cohen was a lyricist, he was a poet. The Canadian spent the 1950s and the majority of the 1960s contemplating weighty themes of faith, love, and death with emotive eloquence. Expectedly, then, Cohen’s preoccupation with words bled into his songwriting when he first embarked upon a career in music in 1967.

After making his dense debut with Songs of Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter delivered perhaps his most poetic work just two years later with Songs From a Room. His sophomore record flew fairly under the critical radar at the time of its release, a fact that remains true even now.

The album received a mixed reception in 1969 and lacked the sleeper hits that some of his other records produced – ‘Hallelujah’ from Various Positions, for example, received revived interest thanks to John Cale and Jeff Buckley’s takes on the track. But despite a relatively lacklustre legacy, Songs From a Room is one of Cohen’s most exquisite offerings.

Abandoning the overproduction of his debut, Cohen rightfully allows his verse to take the spotlight. He once told Mojo, “It’s very stark. A lot of my friends who were musical purists have castigated me for the lushness and overproduction of my first record, and I was determined to do a very simple album.” This simplicity encourages the intimacy of his songwriting to thrive, and the weight of his words ensures that the record doesn’t feel any less dense.

For better or worse, his voice is at the forefront of every song, making declarations of love, of revolution, of regret. Though debate surrounding Cohen’s vocals has been rife, with many making the reductive argument that he simply can’t sing, it’s all the more affecting to hear those intimate words coming directly from their source.

Over subdued and simplistic country-infused folk instrumentals, every line Cohen utters is intricately written and gorgeous, yet strikingly honest. From the mundane imagery of a bird on a wire to the soft but sad affirmation that “tonight will be fine”, there is clear intent behind the meaning and placement of every word. To tell a story, to share a feeling, to make a statement – Cohen finds the words to convey it all.

The record’s opener became a staple in Cohen’s live set, as well as a sonic healing for the songwriter. In the liner notes for The Best of Leonard Cohen, he stated, “I always begin my concert with this song. It seems to return me to my duties.” It’s not difficult to understand why Cohen became so attached to the track.

Preempting the rest of the album, ‘Bird on the Wire’ features picturesque imagery while ruminating on regret and forgiveness. The instrumentals give way to the song’s themes, as Cohen’s voice is accompanied only by a singular guitar and soaring strings. It’s at once melancholic and hopeful. Kriss Kristofferson has even stated that he intends to get the first few lines tattooed.

‘Story of Isaac’, meanwhile, juxtaposes innocence with sacrifice, while ‘Seems So Long Ago, Nancy’ is a haunting ode to a woman Cohen knew who committed suicide. ‘The Partisan’ tangles up a fiddly guitar with words of the French Revolution, while ‘Tonight Will Be Fine’ laments unrequited love with surprising assuredness.

Throughout the record, Cohen was unafraid to touch on some of the heaviest experiences of his own life and of humanity as a whole. Unwavering in his ability to convey them with conviction and cause, he delivered a collection of songs that are at once grand and intimate. Their simplistic soundtrack only allows them to shine further. The record is enchantingly understated, putting the focus exactly where it should be – on Cohen’s poetic musings.

Songs From a Room might not contain the instrumental gravitas of some of Cohen’s other work, but it’s one of the finest examples of his lyrical prowess. With its intense imagery and vulnerability pasted on a stripped-back soundtrack, it’s one of his most intimate releases, so much so that it almost feels like we’re in that room with him.
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ForYourSmile
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by ForYourSmile »

Thanks B4real
‘The Partisan’ tangles up a fiddly guitar with words of the French Revolution,
:shock:
while ‘Tonight Will Be Fine’ laments unrequited love with surprising assuredness.
:roll:

One of us can be wrong
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B4real
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by B4real »

Always my pleasure, FYS :D

And ha! Yeah, I smiled at those two statements ;-)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by LisaLCFan »

I've read worse reviews than this one, but still, do any of these people ever get all the facts straight? Don't they have Google? :roll:

As it turns out, I just listened to this album last week -- I hadn't heard it for a bit. It was nice to hear it again!
murphybridget837
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by murphybridget837 »

I love his compositions, specially the ones with concertina parts.
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by LisaLCFan »

murphybridget837 wrote: Wed Oct 18, 2023 1:51 pm I love his compositions, specially the ones with concertina parts.

Which "compositions" would those be, exactly? It would be most illuminating if you could give us a list, for I cannot recall, offhand, ever having heard a concertina being played in any of Leonard's recordings or concerts. Please correct me if I'm mistaken!
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by murphybridget837 »

My bad, it was concertina covers of his songs that I saw.
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by LisaLCFan »

murphybridget837 wrote: Fri Oct 20, 2023 11:51 am My bad, it was concertina covers of his songs that I saw.
Yes, I imagine that people make that mistake all the time.
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by murphybridget837 »

Well, he still makes really good songs anyway.
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by LisaLCFan »

murphybridget837 wrote: Mon Oct 23, 2023 5:08 am Well, he still makes really good songs anyway.
"Anyway"? Yeah, even without a concertina, his songs aren't too bad, I guess. :roll:

Are you a real person, or are you a concertina-bot who just joined this forum (roughly one month ago) to make posts about concertinas? I noticed that every single post you have made is either about a concertina or it is in a thread in which a concertina is mentioned by someone else! Pretty bloody odd coincidence, don't you think?

This is the Leonard Cohen forum, and a concertina is not an instrument that was ever used in his music (as far as I know), and so, are you actually a Leonard Cohen fan at all (or even a human being), or do you just search the internet for any mention of "concertina", and then join forums when you find one? And, if the latter, Why? Concertinas, seriously? WTF?

Of course, if you are a real person who simply has some sort of concertina fetish, well, then, welcome to the Leonard Cohen forum...
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by murphybridget837 »

I am real person who happens to like concertina. I stumbled across Leonard Cohen, thru one of Bon Jovi's hallelujah rendition.
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by murphybridget837 »

murphybridget837 wrote: Wed Oct 25, 2023 2:27 pm I am real person who happens to like concertina. I stumbled across Leonard Cohen, thru one of Bon Jovi's hallelujah rendition.

By the way do you play one already thinking about learning it somewhere down the road?
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LisaLCFan
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by LisaLCFan »

murphybridget837 wrote: Wed Oct 25, 2023 2:28 pm I am real person who happens to like concertina. I stumbled across Leonard Cohen, thru one of Bon Jovi's hallelujah rendition.

By the way do you play one already thinking about learning it somewhere down the road?
Oh, okay -- it was very odd that you only posted about concertinas, and that you seemed unsure about Leonard Cohen's music, thus my suspicions. No, I do not play a concertina, and I do not plan to -- I prefer to play other instruments, but to each their own. Have a lovely day, and happy concertina playing or listening or whatever floats your boat!
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Re: Songs From A Room - album review

Post by murphybridget837 »

Thanks, I hope you enjoy yours.
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