Album review: Leonard Cohen

old ideas (sony)

This is the fist release from Leonard Cohen since 2004's Dear Heather, and in true Cohen style, it's songs are emblazoned with poetic cries of love, loss, yearning, struggle, spirituality and lust.

Cohen was an acclaimed and accomplished writer before getting into music, and as ever, his well defined and distinguishable presence is unmistakable on Old Ideas. The first thing to hit you when you listen to this record is Cohen's voice; a deep, gravelly voice rife with sophistication and wisdom that can only come from a man of his age.

The sing-speak style of Cohen's delivery is utterly penetrating. It takes a hold of the listener, delicately compelling and with lyrics of intense resonance. Tracks like Show Me The Place find Cohen adopting the Protestant hymnal in the same stance as his most famous song, Hallelujah, and his stirring lyrics are accompanied beautifully by simple, melodic piano chords and sensibilities.

Cohen is backed by his live band on the track Darkness; a homage to early Rhythm and Blues with classic Hammond organ embellishments and bluesy slide-guitar riffs. His skilful songwriting is showcased perfectly here, with brilliant lines like "I thought the past would last me / but the darkness got there too."

His classic 'hopeless blues' format interspersed with somber, downbeat and doleful but clever subject matter is, as we know, what Cohen is best at. His poetic ability flows with ease and emerges in his lyrics as bittersweet wit that you can't help but warm to. Lines such as: "Have mercy on me baby/After all I did confess/Even though you have to hate me/Could you hate me less?", from the track, Anyhow, are prime examples of the vulnerability, elegance and sometimes cheeky humour that materialises in his songwriting.

Full Tracklist:

  • Going Home
  • Amen
  • Show Me the Place
  • Darkness
  • Anyhow
  • Crazy to Love You
  • Come Healing
  • Banjo
  • Lullaby
  • Different Sides
  • Leonard Cohen

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