4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Quite simply a masterpiece,
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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Initial post: 26 Feb 2012 18:31:37 GMT
You said it all so well, thank you. I totally agree with you on every point. Leonard Cohen is unique, he is a master of words, a brilliant singer/songwriter, the best out there. Let us enjoy his work and keep on loving him.
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