Montreal's Leonard Cohen was a well-respected poet and novelist before he ever entered the songwriting fray in the 1960s. His dark, poetic vision rivaled that of Dylan, and his songs inspired countless cover versions, by everyone from Judy Collins to Nick Cave. Over the years, he honed his craft to a razor's edge, his passion always expertly undercut by a biting sense of black humor. His early recordings were largely acoustic affairs, but by the end of the 1980s he had reinvented his sound, successfully incorporating synthesizers and contemporary production techniques while still sounding very much like himself (and gaining a new generation of followers in the process).
Even the production, laden with synthesized strings and cooing female choruses, is wry on I'm Your Man, a definitive Leonard Cohen album. Though still touched with the tragic ("Take This Waltz," based on a Garcia Lorca poem), the album often achieves its high points by combining Cohen's world-weariness with black-humored evocations of social and romantic ills and artistic quandaries. "I was born like this, I had no choice," the gravelly Cohen intimates at disc's end. "I was born with the gift of a golden voice." --Rickey Wright
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