Paul Carr: This is as spellbindingly beautiful as music gets. The deep tones of Cale may have been supplanted in the memory by Buckley’s higher pitched and sensational reading of Cohen’s classic but this is no less soul-stirring. It doesn’t matter that Cale’s cover came first. There is more than one way to cover a song and both Buckley’s and Cale’s are remarkable in their own way. Cale’s slightly more world-weary take adds even more emotional heft to the song. At times it’s almost too difficult to listen to, draped in the dark cowl of the imagery and the attachment that the listener already has for the song. [10/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: By now, just about everybody knows Cale’s cover of “Hallelujah” or a cover of his cover, and the reissue of the track emphasizes why it lasts: it’s beautiful, haunting, moving – a standard of melancholy. More striking than the familiar song, though, is the brand new video, which strikes the perfect chord. A strangeness and a darkness seep into a simple piano performance in the form of things that are too small, too many, or too out of place for comfort; swarms of crickets fall from the keys and miniature pianos appear out of nowhere to crowd the room. It amplifies the song’s central poetry, not just an echo of the past, but a resolute revival of the song for today. [9/10]
John Cale’s Fragments of a Rainy Season reissue releases 9 Dec 2016 via Domino Records.