Tim Cohen - Luck Man - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tim Cohen - Luck Man

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2017-01-20

I was incredibly apprehensive before my first listen to Luck Man, the new album by singer-songwriter Tim Cohen. Having weathered the “freak folk” revival of the noughties, and recent attempts by major media outlets to deify the Grateful Dead, I was apprehensive about Cohen whose sound I assumed, based on some preliminary research, resembled a combination of Devendra Banhart and Father John Misty. The drawback in those comparisons being Banhart’s musical abilities and output never having quite lived-up to his charismatic public persona and Misty who is an interesting and talented musician with a public persona embodying all the pretention and nonsense that drives people mad about Kanye West. It is therefore fitting that what blindsided me about Luck Man was Cohen’s rarefied sincerity and warmth which, in combination with his extreme musical gift, has led to a really interesting, powerful record as striking as Songs from a Room. Heading into the frightening void of 2017 it’s comforting to think the prevailing musical influence is more the powerful poetry of L. Cohen than the detached whimsy H. Nilsson.

Luck Man opens with “Wall About A Window” – a complex song which starts out simply as an airy folk lament and transitions through several time and tempo changes into a marching assent toward a soaring chorus. The album’s lead single “John Hughes” is a bouncing little jangle of a tune in which the narrator sees The Breakfast Club and learns a life lesson: “How can we act alone / Even when we are young?” – a question that Luck Man seems to center around. Track after track Cohen ponders over when one should make a stand for one’s principles and what principles are worth standing up for?

Though Tim Cohen’s affection for Leonard Cohen’s early catalog is abundantly clear, “Meat Is Murder”, draws from I’m Your Man-era Cohen. In a deep rasp Tim Cohen sings “I wake up in the middle of the night and I cry…/ I can’t wait at heaven’s gate / My credit card ain’t fine”. “Meat Is Murder” chugs along at a steady pace with a plaintiff guitar wailing in the background. The overall effect is a bit like a demo track with Leonard Cohen fronting The National.

Cohen’s minimal instincts mostly serve him well on Luck Man though on tracks like “Breathe and Die” and “Sunshine” they underwhelm. Cohen’s range is too great to spend so much time with middling tempos and soft-spoken lyrics. The best moments of Luck Man transition from laidback California grooves into soaring or dreadful moments of greatness. “Breathe and Die” and “Sunshine” fail to move out of the realm of the casual and into anything more meaningful – especially when juxtaposed against a track like “Irony” which seems to be a direct challenge to the hipster culture that spawned some of Cohen’s fellow psych-folk brethren.

Overall Luck Man is an excellent record by an artist whose talents are more than a match for his quirky songwriting and lyrics. Moreover, by eschewing irony and writing passionately about his subject matter Cohen is able to turn Luck Man into a record that transcends genre and will most likely remain musically relevant for decades to come. Luck Man offers a healthy dose of musical truth in a post-truth era.

 

 

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