There are some artists that simply cannot be categorized or put into a neat little package. As I was fully absorbing the new THE NATIONAL CD I found myself drifitng towards a comparison to LEONARD COHEN (moslty due to the similarities in vocal style) but the comparison isn't quite apt. Cohen has been writing and singing for about 40 years and has penned more than a couple of classic songs. Known primarily for his lyrics (and his dry sense of humor), Cohen has the sound of a late night bar that is just about to close for the night. The music of his best work has a sensual quality to it that is jsut a little dirty. You can almost see the smoke and the glass of scotch next to him as he sings.
My first exposure to his work was through the film "Pump Up The Volume", an overlooked teen rebel story that used his song "Everybody Knows" as kind of an anthem of dissaffected youth. I actually have found his later work having a little more depth and variation in theme and style. "Hallelujah" is proabably better known for the Jeff Buckley version but the original more than holds it's weight as a plea for fogiveness from a lover who has been wronged. "Tower of Song" (also the benficiary of a great cover by The Jesus and Mary Chain) has started to take on a new lyrical significance as I get older (particularly the line "I ache in the places where I used to play..."). Do yourself a favor and take a moment, poor a glass of your favorite beverage and enjoy the sheer brilliance of a poet and a true lyricist.