|Click for "Ballad of the Absent Mare" ***|
Recent Songs is the sixth studio album by Leonard Cohen, released in 1979. Produced by Leonard Cohen and Henry Lewy, it was a return to Cohen's acoustic folk music after the Phil Spector experimentation of Death of a Ladies' Man, but now with many jazz and Oriental influences.
After recording Death of a Ladies' Man with Phil Spector, a chaotically recorded album that would garner Cohen the worst reviews of his career, the singer decided to produce his next album himself with assistance from Henry Lewy, a German who had previously worked regularly with Joni Mitchell. The album included Gypsy violin player Raffi Hakopian, English string arranger Jeremy Lubbock, Armenian oud player (located in Los Angeles) John Bilezikjian and even a Mexican Mariachi band.
Long-time Cohen collaborator Jennifer Warnes appeared prominently in vocal tracks. Members of the band Passenger, whom Cohen also met through Mitchell, played on four of the songs. Garth Hudson of the Band also appeared on the album.
Unlike the psychodrama evident on the Spector-dominated Death of a Ladies' Man, Recent Songs, which was recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood in the spring of 1979, sounds lucid by comparison. In the book Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life, oud player John Bilezikjian recalls to author Anthony Reynolds, "Sessions started in the afternoon and we'd go into the evenings. No drinking, that I saw, no visitors. Finished at a reasonable time, no early hours stuff...He let me do whatever it was I wanted to do. He trusted my sense of musicality. He would be with a microphone and headphones and we'd all be wired up in our separate booths and we'd listen and add our part." The album had a largely acoustic, Eastern-tinged flavor and was augmented by the singing of Jennifer Warnes and newcomer Sharon Robinson, who would go on to become one of Cohen's favorite musical collaborators.
View full tribute playlist here.
- "The Guests" – 6:40
- "Humbled in Love" – 5:15
- "The Window" – 5:56
- "Came So Far for Beauty" (Cohen, John Lissauer) – 4:04
- "The Lost Canadian (Un Canadien errant)" (Traditional, Antoine Gérin-Lajoie) – 4:42
- "The Traitor" – 6:16
- "Our Lady of Solitude" – 3:13
- "The Gypsy's Wife" – 5:13
- "The Smokey Life" – 5:19
- "Ballad of the Absent Mare" – 6:26 ***