Songs from the Road

Whether they know it or not, nearly every doom-fueled singer-songwriter owes a massive debt to Leonard Cohen. When many of his contemporaries were singing about times that were a-changin', Cohen was offering downcast slices of sorrow and torment. His deep croon, which has all the warmth of a Louisville Slugger, only adds to the sentiment. And it's on glorious display in this live set (which also includes a DVD) gathered from Cohen's most recent tour. With a full band backing him, Cohen injects each song with singular ambience. "Lover, Lover, Lover" features subtle jazz and flamenco overtones; "Bird on the Wire" includes Southern-gospel R&B spiced with Mediterranean acoustic guitar and a soulful saxophone solo. And the gloomy "Heart With No Companion" is offset by bracing pedal-steel guitar. Even this late in his career, Songs from the Road is a bounty for Cohen fans and novices.

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