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211 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best
This is a truly great Leonard Cohen album in my view - something I've not been able to say for too many years. The music often sounds delicate but has a laid back robustness about it, too, with his trademark simple melodies and a very welcome varied sound and style, with elements of country, blues, gospel and rock. There are also the beautiful and familiar female...
Published on 30 Jan 2012 by Sid Nuncius

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aged Poet Can Still Shine
So what does a 77 year old Canadian poet still have to give the pop world? Well the answer if you believe the rock critics is an album of freshness that is up there with his best. The plaudits have come, the five star reviews are in. Is it really that good. Well the answer is probably no. But neither is it bad. It doesn't bear comparison with the early work when Cohen had...
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Peter Steward


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211 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best, 30 Jan 2012
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
This is a truly great Leonard Cohen album in my view - something I've not been able to say for too many years. The music often sounds delicate but has a laid back robustness about it, too, with his trademark simple melodies and a very welcome varied sound and style, with elements of country, blues, gospel and rock. There are also the beautiful and familiar female backing vocals, and some simply magnificent work from a varied band - the trumpet on "Amen," for example, is unexpected and absolutely spellbinding.

Cohen's voice these days has passed through the Whisky & Cigarettes stage and is well on the way to a Chronic Bronchitis sound, but he still has that fabulous depth and resonance beneath the weariness and the creaks. He hovers between singing and speaking for much of this album even more than previously, but as a friend once said to me, "No one can sing a Leonard Cohen song the way Cohen himself can't." How true. He is miked very close so, particularly when listening on headphones, it really feels as though he is present and whispering into your ear.

All this is perfect for the songs here, whose lyrics are Cohen at his best: thoughtful, allusive, melancholy, witty and sometimes provoking. The religious imagery he has always used so brilliantly is well in evidence, and it is striking how much of it is now specifically Christian. Broken relationships, suffering and death have always been in the corner of Cohen's eye whatever he is writing about. They are often in plain sight here and are treated with insight, resignation, compassion and beauty. The old witty twinkle and his self-deprecatory streak are still there, though, and shine through what is often a very elegiac atmosphere. He still has that fantastic ability somehow to get to the heart of things both when he's speaking straightforwardly and even when direct meaning is elusive. These are songs to take into your heart, nurture and allow to grow there.

I think that several of these songs, including Amen, Show Me The Place and Different Sides are likely to become Cohen classics, but there is nothing to be sanitized and exploited by talent-show winners here and if you don't like Leonard Cohen this album certainly won't convert you. However, those legions of us who know that he was born like this, he had no choice, he was born with the gift of a golden voice will be delighted and deeply satisfied that that voice, both in what he writes and how he performs it, has lost none of its magnificent lustre.

I recommend this album wholeheartedly. I suspect that it may be a masterpiece.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy has places to hide in..., 30 Jan 2012
This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
The voice so deep, "a thousand kisses deep", to say it with the words of one of his songs. After listening to the album three times in a row, you realize there is no standout track, no future evergreen (the word evergreen should be banned anyway: too much nostalgia even takes the good part of darkness away). The longest track, "Amen", is a hymn, a prayer that agnostics and atheists might fall in love with while enjoying the feel of ancient banjo, sepia-coloured violin and simple cornet. On "Old Ideas" the man with the golden voice (good old joke!) doesn't act like a preacher at all, and every verse that could seem to send a message carved in stone and song is quickly counterbalanced by dark humour, self-irony and stoicism.

There are bluesy moments, slow-motion-gospel - and jazz-vibes. The gravity comes from the voice, and how it nearly creates new definitions of close miking and sub-bass, with the result of warm intimacy. And then there are all the female voices of older and newer times (from Jennifer Warnes to the Webb Sisters) doing the jobs of a second voice, a background, and a choir. An old Cohen tradition: but remember, on the first studio album of his demon-chasing life, the producer added these kind of angelic colours against the will of the singer to soften the scenery. An old trick that still works.

It is the sincerity of the artist that allows him to stick totally to old ideas without any suspect he might have lost it. He's just slowing down, down, down - with a clear eye for exit signs and open places: "Sometimes I'd head for the highway/ I'm old and the mirrors don't lie/ But crazy has places to hide in/ Deeper than saying goodbye," he sings/speaks on "Crazy To Love You", accompanied by an acoustic guitar only. So, finally, closing time, silence, a last dying tone? No, that would be too pretentious. It's better to leave the scene with a beat, a rhythmic soul groove - and asking for a kiss. Amen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New words from an old voice, 19 Feb 2012
By 
Steven Richardson "steve_ric" (Northampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
The standout for me from this album is re-affirming that Leonard Cohen is first a poet and then a singer. His fluent lyrics married to simple tunes, with the sublime female backing to his even more gravelly voice, produce sounds that still resonate 40 years after first hearing him. The opening line of the album is "I'd love to speak to Leonard", and the first track Going Home sets the tone for an album that is both wistful and ironic and tells how he still has much to offer and much to leave behind. Like the rest of us he seeks redemption & forgiveness and he's not afraid to write about it. Nevertheless he still sounds and writes like a ladies' man with a vision of the future even in his 70's- there's hope for us all! Definitely a worthwhile addition to his catalogue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less can be more, 7 May 2012
This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
It's quite a thought that Leonard Cohen began his forty-five year recording career when he was already in his late thirties. A year older than Elvis Presley, a decade older than the average Beatle, he only started to become known at an age when other 60s heroes (Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix) were long dead, and when his only real rival, Bob Dylan, had already done his best work. But before that, he was a cult (if not very successful) poet and novelist, and it's this long exposure to wider western culture, and the discipline that comes from producing the written word, that accounts for his absolutely unique body of work. No-one has followed him, and nobody really can, so every new collection of his songs is an unexpected bonus.
From the early LPs, listened to in open-mouthed admiration by a million students in small rooms, through the magisterial CDs of the 1980s, to the current collection, fashionably available in the form of ones and zeroes, he has produced a songbook which is almost frightening in its level of achievement and contains a smaller percentage of failures than any popular music writer of the last hundred years. "Old Ideas" is not absolutely top-notch Cohen, which is just to say that it's much better than practically anything else you will hear this year. It's an example of how great artists, as they age, often seek purity and simplicity above all. In Cohen's case, this means texts that seem to have been discovered, rather than being composed, and, blessedly, spare and gentle accompaniment, which is what his songs have always needed.
For a decade now, I have assumed that every Cohen album would be the last. Let's hope the lights don't go out just yet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Old Bugger Returns, 29 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
Its the Lennie of old. Even more croaky than ever but so well produced it is ace and for me a must have part of the collection.
I still don't get why people say he is depressing - its just contemplating life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply a masterpiece, 26 Feb 2012
This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
Some might call it fate, destiny, kismet, serendipity - whatever, but the real reason that Leonard Cohen has got to this point in his life is much more prosaic. The real reason that he is able to release an album of such outstanding quality comes down to three things - talent, vision and sheer hard work. I have been a committed fan of Cohen since the 1967 release of his debut album, and have gone through all the rites of passage (wine bottles, candle-lit bedsits, dissected lyrics and pilgrimages to see him live) and he has never let me down. Well that is not strictly true, but like most fans I am prepared to overlook Death of a Ladies' Man, or at best treat it as the black sheep in an otherwise exalted family. Because the truth is, over the years, Cohen's body of work has been exemplary. Though never prolific, his work has been intense, focussed, thoughtful, and most importantly, unique. None of the great singer/songwriters of this generation have quite matched his consistency - no mean feat when you consider such giants as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Tom Waits, etc.,etc,.

No, Leonard Cohen stands alone, and as recordings of his recent gruelling concert tours show, he is nothing if not a perfectionist. A fact that is confirmed by the quality of his most recent studio recordings (although in this case, recent is a very relative word), I for one, think that Ten New Songs is one of the finest albums ever, by anybody.

And so to Old Ideas, Cohen's first album of new material in nearly eight years - ten songs of such excellence that one has to bow down to a master craftsman at work. Everything about this album is just superb, the writing, the vocal delivery, the musicianship, just everything - Mr. Cohen is at the top of his game. His voice of course is little more than a husky whisper, the "golden voice" of yore a thing of the past, but when you hear theses words delivered with such passionate intensity you are drawn into another world. Equally ardent and inspired are long time collaborators the Webb sisters and Jennifer Warnes, and the whole sound is underpinned by Cohen's stalwart lyrical aide, the sublime Sharon Robinson. Not a word, a phrase or a syllable is wasted, such is the musical economy of this album, and the musicians, honed by a couple of years of live work, are as economical and proficient as the singers. The songs themselves are as one would expect - dark, compelling, intense, arcane, even humorous in a Cohen sort of way, ...a lazy bastard living in a suit, is how Cohen's alter ego refers to him in the opening song Going Home.

It would serve no point to examine each song individually, suffice to say that everything you would expect from a Leonard Cohen album is here, but in spades. Some songs do have the edge on others, the aforementioned Going Home is cynically glorious, Darkness is exactly that (perceived sexual innuendo/imagery notwithstanding) but Amen is probably the closest thing to a prayer that this cynical atheist will ever experience. In short, this is an album that even non fans should try to sample, disciples such as myself will need no prompting. It is an antidote to the plastic, stereotypical, sound alike world that today's music industry has become. A masterpiece from a master.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 30 Jan 2012
By 
Angel Delta (Southsea Hants) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
In his 12th studio album Leonard Cohen returns to his familiar theme of being human with all the frailties and challenges that attend the condition. Employing a simplicity of musical texture Cohen performs ten deeply personal songs delivered mainly as spoken word poetry to moving effect.

With exquisite backing vocals by long time associates Jennifer Warnes, Anjani Thomas, Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters the songs have an ethereal and hymnal quality that is often nurtured by a slow and elegiac violin. But that is not to say that it is just a monochromatic sound because there are strains of gypsy jazz strings, country and even shades of Dylanesque blues.

This is not the sound of an old man contemplating the end and he wryly observes "I love to speak with Leonard/He's A sportsman and a shepherd/He's a lazy bastard living in a suit". But it would be pointless to write a review that dwells too much on the lyrics of this almost flawless production. The important facts are that this is a masterpiece of poetry combining with a sublime musical tapestry that can relax, inspire and enthral in equal measure. It is simply beautiful and another classic Cohen album to cherish. I regret to say that his is a lost art and one that we will never see the like of again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aged Poet Can Still Shine, 10 May 2014
By 
Mr. Peter Steward "petersteward" (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
So what does a 77 year old Canadian poet still have to give the pop world? Well the answer if you believe the rock critics is an album of freshness that is up there with his best. The plaudits have come, the five star reviews are in. Is it really that good. Well the answer is probably no. But neither is it bad. It doesn't bear comparison with the early work when Cohen had a unique voice and slant on life. Now his voice sounds as if he has eaten a ton of gravel - somewhere approaching Tom Waits but not quite all the way there. The result is he talks the lyrics rather than sings them.

There's the almost standard girlie background chorus and some forgettable music. But there are also moments of beauty in a very laid back way that sees the album rise up from the entirely mundane to warrant its relief. Cohen returned to writing and live appearances after being faced with bankruptcy. This is rather worrying as it suggests it did it all for the money rather than the art and the other worry is it's another facing the grim reaper album following on from recent year releases from Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell.

Thankfully there is humour here and Cohen still has the ability to take the juice out of himself and that alone stops it from ever becoming mundane. Don't expect anything as good as Suzanne, Bird on the Wire or Hallelujah however.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still in the groove, 3 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
New songs but the same old Leonard.If you are a fan then you will love it. Moody and obtuse, simple melodies complicated emotions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still life in the old suit, 31 May 2012
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This review is from: Old Ideas (Audio CD)
Some said that Leonard Cohen only brought this album out to cover his financial set-backs from recent times. Not true. He is still the poet-singer that allow the gravel-growl of his soul to fly free. It is not only his ability to express the journey of modern man and the lost and found boxes we discover along the way. It is also his ability to laugh at himself and to wink at his adorning fans that makes this a very touching and human affair.

As someone who has spend time with all his CDs, this collection of songs bring something different even though it is unmistakably Cohen. It is scattered with existential reflections on time and age. On Going home he sings, "Going home without my burden, Going home behind the curtain, Going home without this costume that I wore". On Crazy to Love you he refelects on the mirrors that don't lie, but also continues on his long-standing love affair with love in its many forms.

This would please any long-standing Cohen fan, but would also speak to anyone who lives, loves and longs for the questions to be answered.
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Old Ideas
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