This fourth studio album from the master of the singer/songwriter genre, Leonard Cohen, is a bit of a departure form his previous three releases, and one that, for me, works well. Previously famed for a Spartan approach to music, here he uses a wider variety of backing instruments to provide a rich musical palette from which to make his arrangements. However, even though the arrangements are lusher and more intricate, the basics of Cohen's style remain unchanged. The heart of each track is Cohen's intimate, almost poetic, lyrics. Telling intensely personal stories, with tales of love, loss, regret and a degree of political activism, each verse feels lovingly crafted with each word placed carefully for maximum effect. Cohen's style is intelligent, literate and with the occasional flash of humour, making for some memorable lines.
In tone and style it is quite different to Cohen's early output, but this is no bad thing. Life is about change and evolving, and Cohen's style has definitely evolved through the years, with each new album another step along his road of discovery. It is a journey without a destination, and we should be thankful for being allowed to follow. Some people dislike the change, but personally I think his albums are all the better for it - we'd have all got bored long ago if every album he ever made sounded just like the last one. For me this was a step along the road that worked well, and a classic album resulted.