Leonard Cohen

Old Ideas - CBS 2012

Tracks:   1. Going Home / 2. Amen / 3. Show Me The Place / 4. Darkness / 5. Anyhow / 6. Crazy To Love You / 7. Come Healing / 8. Banjo / 9. Lullaby / 10. Different Sides


Leonard Cohen is not known to spoil his large audience with many new songs / albums. So naturally there are always high hopes and expectations for his rare new releases. After the album "Dear Heather" from 2004, one might fear that the old voice and perhaps the inspiration was close to exhaustion. There are fine songs on "Dear Heather", but they are fewer than you are accustomed to from Cohen, and his voice appear worn and slightly weak on several tracks.

I was fortunate to experience him live on his recent European tour, so I knew that he in many ways is still an entertainer at the highest level and that his voice if it just presented right is at least as expressive as when he was younger. Over the years he is also known for being very adept at finding the right musicians and especially the right singers to back up.

On this new album the list of people who have vcontributed is very long - both concerning producers, arrangers, singers and musicians. However, fortunately, they have managed to create a beautiful album that serves as a beautiful whole, and you donever notice that the whole team may be changed from one song to the next.

Like all Cohen's later albums it is beautifully produced: Very pleasant sound - never get boring nor irrelevant, however. Cohen's songwriting is still fine, though there hardly many new great classics to find. On several of the songs he has had help on melody side from producer Patrick Leonard and on one from Anjani Thomas.

There are no weak tracks - they all appear finished, even though the lyrics on a couple of tracks may seem a little sparse. The theme of the songs is for the most part getting old - looking back at a long life and to embrace death.

Of personal favorites, I will mention "Going Home" - a quiet melodic song with very nice vocal backing by Dana Glover.

On the gospel-like and melancholy "Show Me" Cohen is supported on vocals by his old friend Jennifer Warnes. Perhaps the finest number on the album.

On the melodic "Come Healing" it is again Dana Glover who is responsible for the great harmony vocals.

A small handful of songs draw well on the blues. "Darkness" with his latest tour band in the backing is a fine and tight recording, and it's always nice to listen to Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters. Robinson is also present on the less significant "Banjo". On "Lullaby" you notice a nice melodic guitar line.

The final track "Different Sides" is a worthy conclusion to a great album from one of music's great veterans. The song has some of the grandeur that characterized Cohen's music on "I'm Your Man" and "The Future".

"Amen" has by many been brought forward as the key track. I don't necessarily agree. For me, "Amen" is just one good number among many others.

Back to Band pages