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Music

New or recent releases

Thanks For The Dance

Leonard Cohen

It turns out that Cohen had one more album in him, or at least enough of one to enable his son Adam and a sympathetic coterie of background singers and musicians to turn it into something befitting his singular legacy. The sepulchral whispers, the poetic verbal economy, the intermingling of the sacred and the profane—everything that ever made Cohen fascinating is here. Most fascinating of all, he ends by imploring his fans not to listen to him anymore but to listen instead to “the mind of God.”

If You’re Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison

Various artists

In an uncommon twist where tribute albums are concerned, most of these various artists are A-listers. Not that their status automatically grants them access to Allison’s sardonic paradoxes: The difference between those who come across as Allison admirers (Taj Mahal, Iggy Pop, Chrissie Hynde) and those who come across as Allison soul mates (John Chin and Richard Julian, Robbie Fulks, Loudon Wainwright III) is palpable. That being said, three cheers for Fiona Apple singing “Your Molecular Structure.” And Jackson Browne’s “If You Live” could delight Tonio K.

Three Chords & The Truth

Van Morrison

That the dark night of the soul (the title of Track 3) from which Morrison has emerged may have been of his own making does not diminish these performances. He hasn’t sung with this much je ne sais quoi since Into the Music. One explanation may be that he no longer smokes, another that his last four albums were palate-cleansing genre exercises. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to hear him recycling his favorite melodies and ideas for the purpose of bidding yet another period of transition farewell.

I

Jon Troast

First-time fatherhood has brought out the advice giver in this itinerant singer-songwriter. Although three of his latest five songs address his wife (including “Please Look Me in the Eye,” Troast’s most musically soulful statement to date), there’s an unmistakably paternal quality to “Leave Some of the Ends Loose” and “How the World Works.” The former contains Troast’s prescription for not finding oneself “all tied up in knots.” The latter adapts 1 Corinthians 12 to society at large and wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Mister Rogers.

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Robert Fripp (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

ENCORE

This year, King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King and Robert Fripp’s Exposure turn 50 and 40 respectively. And, to mark the occasion, Discipline Global Mobile has released expanded editions of each. Absorbed back to back, they reveal more clearly than ever the vast creative distance that Fripp (King Crimson’s leader and only continuous member) traveled while evolving from a progressive rocker with a severe case of the moody blues into a cutting-edge crafter of art-damaged art songs. The only even remotely common sonic ground? In the Court of the Crimson King’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” certainly the only song ever to be sampled by Kanye West and quoted by Ravi Zacharias.

It’s Exposure’s minute-and-a-half “Water Music I,” however, that provides the most interesting footnote. Amid “Frippertronic” tape loops, the esoterist J.G. Bennett solemnly predicts mass climate-change-related destruction. His time frame? Forty years (i.e., now). The cause? Global freezing. —A.O.