Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas

‘I love to speak with Leonard, he’s a sportsman and a shepherd, he’s a lazy bastard Living in a suit’ are the first words that you hear from the familiar voice of Leonard Cohen on his new album. It sets up the record, his first in eight years, that sees the 77 year old pull no punches in addressing the bigger picture of existence and his own place within it. Cohen not shy of getting spiritual in his poetic lyrics is on top form here and draws not only on years of experience but also from his knowledge that his time will, as it does for everyone, eventually end. Yes it’s a sombre affair, after all its Cohen, but it also it manages to be uplifting, comforting and mature. The music that compliments his baritone takes in everything from blues to rock while always being laidback and methodical. A song like ‘Darkness’ wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to a film like ‘Natural Born Killers’ (two of Cohen’s songs were) it has a certain menace to it that threatens to bubble over at any given point. But it is the inclusion of various female vocals (Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters and Jennifer Warnes) that provide the light to his dark passenger and stops the ten compositions from becoming too weighty and overwhelming. By releasing this record and even teasing us with the promise of another, Cohen joins other musicians (Dylan, Cash, Campbell and Diamond, to name but a few) who have, after illustrious careers, gone on to do some of their best work in their latter years.

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