You Want It Darker
Year of release: 2016
The flicker of mortality and impending death hangs over Leonard Cohen's final album You Want It Darker, which is fitting given he would pass away shortly after its release. However, though Cohen's trademark hushed baritone remains, this isn't simply a snapshot of personal turmoil or setting the table for one's swan song, but rather, a universal grasping for wider truths. Through strummed guitar, soaring background female chanting, delicate piano, haunting organ swells, and that unmistakable croon, Cohen tackles his own legacy as a ladies man, religious hypocrisy, the specter of death, and the idea of moving beyond any kind of sage wisdom or passing of the torch.
The most beautiful thing about You Want It Darker, though, is Cohen's sense of humility. As a man who has reason to boast about a life full of accomplishments, his bowed head, pessimistic worldview, and indifference toward elevating himself is deeply felt here; making the album a powerful last word and testament. Clocking in at just under 35 minutes, You Want It Darker is also the sound of the 82-year-old legend bowing out just as the world enters the early stages of Trump's America; and we can easily empathize. As he drifts peacefully into the night, we are only left with his legacy and the confusion of living in such a tumultuous time in history. Cohen would have probably be more poetic about the future of the human race, and his defiant, booming voice might have even saved us. Who knows. At least we have this hushed and delicately powerful album to hold onto, and for that, we should be eternally grateful.