Personnel includes: Leonard Cohen (vocals, guitar).
After recovering from his traumatic studio experiences with Phil Spector on DEATH OF A LADIES MAN (Spector was said to have brandished a gun at some point), Cohen retreated to friendlier sonic climes. Aided by co-producer Henry Lewy, he filled RECENT SONGS with stately songpoems marked by lush (but never overdone), elegant arrangements. While there was always a pronounced literary streak in Cohen's work, the songs here find him at his most purely poetic, more the chansonnier than the troubadour.
"I Came So Far For Beauty" finds Cohen in a familiar self-effacing mode, recounting his vain search for the perfect muse. Like NEW SKIN's "There is a War," "The Traitor" effectively analyzes personal travails through militaristic metaphor, over semi-classical backing. The closing "Ballad of the Absent Mare," later covered by Emmylou Harris, comes off like an epic prose poem in the classic ballad style, but its slight cowboy lilt provides a nice contrast to the lyric. RECENT SONGS is arguably Cohen's most mature '70s effort.