5 out of 5
Label: Murailles Music
Produced by: Tom Herbers
It should be noted that I don’t know my Leonard Cohen. This is despite buying some stuff back when I was trying to build my “cool” music profile as a teen, and listening to it a fair amount, before accepting the fact that none of the music was really sinking in might indicate that, y’know, maybe I didn’t like Leonard Cohen that much, and I didn’t have to own things just to be hip. (Though it would take another decade or so for that lesson to actually sink in…)
So are these covers of Leonard Cohen songs good ones? No idea. I can only base my opinion on how the album sounds to me on its own standing, and perhaps proving how effective re-presenting things in a different context can be, Anonymous Choir’s Leonard Cohen covers – appropriately named “Sings Leonard Cohen” – sound phenomenal.
The elements of the album are sparse: a choir as led by vocalist Nona Marie Invie; a piano. But there’s thought put in to how to present these elements to milk the maximum impact, varying the song sequencing such that we get more intimate pieces broken up by more rhythmic, comparatively celebratory ones, with recording focus leaning toward Invie, or the keys, or the choir as appropriate. Invie, as a lead, is compelling: confident but not boastful vocals, working alongside her piano playing but the recording allowing for an organic, earthy feeling to each half of that sound; the choir, similarly, knows when to sit back and when to amp it up.
Whether or not this adds anything to the originals, I can’t say, but the compositions arrive with the full force of their emotion and poetry, strongly performed by Invie and the Anonymous Choir in a manner that allows the listener in, but makes the songs feel personal as well.