Leonard Cohen

The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was released nearly 40 years ago. Judy Collins already had made “Suzanne” and “Sisters of Mercy” FM hits and primed people for Cohen’s debut, but the strength of that first album took many by surprise. Cohen’s dark melodies and acerbic lyrics were like nothing that came before, or since. Songs from a Room and Songs of Love and Hate deepened his meditations on love, war, depression and betrayal without resorting to pop’s usual hyperbole or hysteria. These remastered CDs sound crisp and clean, retaining the timeless feel of the original sessions. The bonus tracks are mostly redundant takes of familiar songs, with the exception of “Blessed Is the Memory” on Songs of Leonard Cohen, a prayer for fallen friends that’s a worthy addition to his canon.