Go in with some certain expectations when Leonard Cohen titles a song “Darkness.”
This morose, devoted songwriter has sung his fair share of shaded tunes. This one, off of his forthcoming “Old Ideas,” layers a little bounce over a traditional blues-structure. There’s nothing terribly personalized or confessional locked in the lyrics, but the close mix on the bass notes and his rumbly mumble lay the mood down right.
My only point of contention are the light, pretty backing vocals, which seem to soften the blow of his sub-tone growl, a kind of coldly sentimental light at the end of this tunnel of “Darkness.” It’s a adult-contemporary misstep, like using a Rhodes when you should use a mean, temporal organ sound or a choir when you should use a bevy saxes. But he’s an old man — I wouldn’t say that out of cruelty, the guy named his album “Old Ideas,” for crying out loud. He can recruit angels if he wants to.
“Old Ideas” is out on Jan. 31 via Columbia and is Cohen’s first studio set since 2004. You can also check out the album’s first single “Show Me the Place” here.