Elevate Difference

Shades of Dorian Gray

Danny Cohen’s third record for the label ANTI demonstrates his uniqueness as an artist, as did 2005’s We’re All Gunna Die. The 16-track CD takes one on a musical journey of mystical, gothic proportions.

Often compared to Tom Waits, Vic Chestnut, Jad Fair, and Daniel Johnston, Cohen has crafted an offbeat musical career spanning some five decades. The album was partly recorded on a half-inch Ampex tape machine, as well as, interestingly, in a “mobile garage studio.”

This slow, dark record delves into subject matters such as witches’ fables, original sin, visits to Hell and various other ghosts and “morbid fascinations” of Cohen’s. It is the kind of record one imagines listening to in the dark, lying on silk cushions, while on some kind of opiate. The women Cohen portrays in this collection almost never are fully human, another version of that tired old male cliché that allows poor treatment and misunderstanding of women because they aren't true humans, but rather sub-humans, witches or sex objects.

The song “Beneath the Shroud” demonstrates this point, for it describes a visit to Hell after “the subject loses his virginity to a gorgeous Laurel Canyon witch.” Although it is doubtful that Cohen only views women as witches or other mythical beings, rather, his unusual lyrics are simply meant to shock and intrigue the listener. Cohen’s deep, almost creepy voice makes for an excellent companion to his dark lyrics and simmering organ playing.

Written by: Kent Page McGroarty, April 5th 2007