There are a lot of strange people making strange music. Danny Cohen unabashedly falls under this description. His latest album, We’re All Gunna Die, is the latest to play over my speakers and completely confuse me. Is he brilliant or retarded? Do I love it or find it obnoxious?
Cohen has a style and sound that draws an obvious comparison to Tom Waits. However, the folksy sound that Cohen produces can easily be associated with the likes of Bob Dylan. However, We’re All Gunna Die has a pervasive weirdness throughout the album that is all Cohen.
There are sixteen songs on the album, all of which seem to revolve around death in some fashion. The first, “As I Looked Down, is about a near death experience, while “Funeral in New Orleans” considers death by voodoo. “(Tounge-tied in) Quicksand” has the dark qualities of Waits and sounds like it would be right at home on the soundtrack of Tim Burton’s newest animated feature “Corpse Bride.”
While the songs have a dark subject matter and tone, Cohen has a talent for lifting his songs above a mere depressing meditation on death. The carnival-like sound created by bells, horns, slide whistle, mellotron, and toy piano on several of the songs help to add levity.
“Ghost Country Safari” is one of my favorites; a supposed ghost story overlaps into child abduction. What gets me to smirks is when Cohen sings that he is just making it up as he goes along and “this is supposed to be my commercial song.” It provides a wink at the listener showing he might not be completely out of his mind.
The baaing of sheep, discordant notes, and his howling on “Mystery Man” aside, We’re All Gunna Die is an album that is fun to listen to. If you enjoy folk blended with the absurd, then it is an album worth looking in to. As for my questions in the first paragraph, can’t it be all of the above?