Saturday, April 28, 2012

Old Ideas

by Leonard Cohen

I have admired Leonard Cohen since I was in high school, having read his two novels and many of his poems at a time when I was very open to new ideas and expressions of self.  Leonard has always been both an introspective man, and someone not overly concerned with what others think (how else could someone with the voice he had in the 60s imagine himself having a career as a singer?).

His music was always a bit of a tougher sell.  There can be no disputing his genius as a songwriter (throw a dart at any of his albums and you'll hit a great song), but between his voice and frequently cheesy, synth-heavy instrumentation, the albums really were an acquired taste.

As Leonard has aged, so has his voice, into a rich and inviting instrument.  Now, with Old Ideas, his newest studio album, everything finally comes together, as a mix of well-arranged music played by living musicians, and some of the best writing of Leonard's career.

This album has ten songs, and every single one of them is beautiful.  The disc opens with 'Going Home', which was also recently published as a poem in the New Yorker.  Musically, it reminds me a great deal of Suzanne, one of his earliest and best known songs, but it is much more reflective of Leonard's advanced age.

It is well known that Leonard only recorded this album because he has found himself in financial hardship, and while it saddens me that someone with his gifts, talents, and contributions to music and poetry should find himself in such a position, I'm really rather glad that it led to this music being made.  I predict that this will be one of his albums for which he will always be remembered.

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