RIP Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)


Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen

Singer, songwriter, poet, and mystic Leonard Cohen has died. He was 82. His last recording, You Want it Darker, was released on October 21st.

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.” – Selected Poems, Leonard Cohen.

Sharon Van Etten – “Are We There”

Are We There

Sharon Van Etten

Jagjaguwar, 2014


Sharon Van Etten’s latest solo album retains elements of her previous work: the immediacy of her lyrics and her songs’ beautiful musical atmospheres. As on Tramp, one continues to hear Van Etten’s vocal range expand – by now able to encompass keening soprano lines as well as a growling contralto a la Stevie Nicks. Some of the best moments on Are We There combine both vocal approaches, as on the multi-layered “Taking My Chances.” Her more confessional and emotionally stark selections, such as “Your Love is Killing Me” are compelling as well; here we are relieved by a swelling build to the chorus that offsets that stark ambiance of the verse. One is most impressed with the range of material on display here. So often, singer-songwriter albums can get stuck in a particular vibe or groove that leaves them monochromatic. Not so with Are We There: Van Etten has crafted her most varied, and most compelling, album to date. Recommended.


10/19: Dar Williams at Symphony Space

dar williams picture

On Saturday, October 19th at 8 PM, Singer-songwriter Dar Williams will perform at New York City’s Symphony SpaceThe concert is part of a tour in support of Williams’s latest studio album, In The Time Of Gods (2012, Razor & Tie). The album presents ten tales from Greek mythology which are repurposed by Williams to address contemporary issues. Like much of her previous work, the recording sits astride folk and pop idioms, creating an  ear-pleasing yet thoughtful and substantial impression.


Those who enjoyed the second disc of Many Great Companions, the songwriter’s 2010 greatest hits compilation, with its stripped down renditions of songs from her catalogue, are likely to be pleased with the acoustic setting in which the Symphony Space performance takes place. Instead of a full band, Williams will perform as part of a duo, singing and playing guitar, accompanied by pianist Bryn Roberts. 

Opening act The Rebecca West operates in a similar “chamber folk” idiom. Alex Dezen (the Damnwells), Cameron Dezen, and Matt Hamon. Their first EP, Lost and Found, displays a capacity for generously melodic hooks and winsome three-part harmony vocals.