But first impressions have never been Cohen's forte either; his voice has to be savored. It becomes a fan's hard-earned reward. Moreover, his songwriting -- more poetic than lyrical -- is often erudite and challenging, and his musical approach, despite being tripped by his adventurous muse on occasion, has never been singular. Ten New Songs contains most of these classic Cohen elements. "That Don't Make It Junk" is stark Tom Waitsish loser melodrama; "By the Rivers Dark," a slow, sorrowful reflection; and "You Have Loved Enough," Faulknerian gospel. They're all captivating, pure-Cohen story-songs sung well. Problem is, none of it amounts to a sack of popular music potatoes when Cohen's savvy pop classicism gets mistakenly married with the supposedly hip yet drearily slow, trip-hopping beats that saturate Ten New Songs.
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