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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Far more varied than Ten New Songs, Dear Heather sounds patchy at first listen. But repeated spins reveal the subtle layers of beauty and the cohesive themes of the album. Lord Byron's poem, Go No More A Roaming, sets the mood, with lovely backing by Sharon Robinson. The enigmatic Because Of, with its repeated refrain "Look at me Leonard/One last time" is a beautiful blend of eros and thanatos, spiced by wry humor and embellished with the beautiful voice of Anjani Thomas.

Simplicity rules on The Letters where Sharon Robinson and Cohen share the vocals, sometimes solo, sometimes in duet. With its sparse instrumentation, Undertow has a dreamy melody and stirring imagery with Thomas taking the female vocal. Morning Glory is another oneiric soundscape with tinkling keyboards and spoken vocals framed by the divine female voice. The most moving moment on the album is On That Day (They Wounded New York), an elegant, lilting song with hypnotic harp textures.

Villanelle For Our Time, written by Frank Scott, is a spoken poem with memorable lines like: "From bitter searching of the heart/We rise to play a greater part." The title track is a delightful love song with innovative arrangement including harp and trumpet, and playful vocals. With its catchy tune and lovely harmonies, Nightingale is a little folk-pop gem with main vocal by Thomas, whilst To A Teacher is another recited poem. The sound of The Faith resembles that of the album Recent Songs, with Raffi Hakopian on violin and John Bilezikjian on the lute. This is very moving, like a graceful goodbye.

The albums ends, surprisingly but fittingly, with a 1985 live version of Tennessee Waltz, raw and powerful in its rootsy country delivery. The song receives Leonard's addendum, a third verse in his own poetic style. Some people are forever stuck on Cohen's 1960s style. They don't like Death of a Ladies' Man and they dissed Ten New Songs, so they won't appreciate this one either. I consider it a masterpiece with his genius expressed in a refreshing variety of styles and timeless songs. Dear Heather might well be the last proper Leonard Cohen studio album. If so, what a memorable farewell it will be.
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on 4 September 2009
I cannot stop listening to Dear Heather. Leonard, methinks is brilliant in this album and I particularly loved 'undertow'! Such a beautiful poetry! Another favourite is 'Villanelle of our time', calming and destressing. 'Go no-more roving', just brilliant again! A perfect start of a amazing album :). 'Because of'? Hmmm..I didn't connect here and found it self-bragging, the music is good as always though. Leonard is much better with his mature voice. And please do not forget to listen to 'Nightingale', LOVELY. I have heard his older songs, but found the new songs brilliant.
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on 13 March 2013
what can one say about leonard cohen that hasnt already been said. Wether you are a long time fan or a newcomer to his music you will not be dissapointed with this. His voice just gets better with age. A true showman, he gives his all and it shows in all the tracks on this cd
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on 17 November 2004
I'm sorry but I'm totally mystified why Cohen would want to follow up on the excellent "10 songs" album with this?
To me, and I'm sure this will offend Cohen devotees, it sounds like a rag bag of out-takes. Surely with the proceeds
from his last record he could have taken time out to write stronger material - and more importantly doesn't he have any
managers or record company folk who might be able to steer him towards an appropriate producer and session musicians
who could encourage him to record his work the way that would best serve it?? The programmed drums on Ten songs
were already an unecessary weakness for a man with his opportunities but these musical arrangements are I'm sorry to say
a cheap laquer on already shaky material. Sorry - I have enormous respect for the artist but feel disappointed by this.
If Joni Mitchell is recording to a higher standard than ever - similarly Randy Newman - and if Dylan can write and deliver
tracks like the sublime "Mississippi" on his last album- and indeed we've already heard that Cohen can give us "Alexandra Leaving" and "A Thousand Kisses Deep" - so what's stopping him from digging deeper this time?
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on 28 October 2004
There are some songs on this album, such as the title track, that are just strange. There are others, such as 'Because Of' in which the words "Look at me Leonard" are repeatedly sung, that make you feel pleased Cohen is still going about his business of being a bit of a funny, slightly dirty old man. But perhaps the most striking thing about this album is the existence of a lot more tracks in which recital rather than singing takes precdence. Cohen the Poet, rather than Cohen the Singer-Songwriter, presides over the songs in this album, and does a moderately successful job. It's hard to know against what measure to judge it; certainly it is not of the same class as his earlier works, nor is it likely to be an album you should lend to anyone wishing to get into Cohen for the first time. But in comparison with his recent albums, 'Dear Heather' is less politically driven, more relaxed and almost crepuscular. There are some beautiful moments where you can find yourself listening to a folk song or an eloquent poem, and other less impressive moments when it sounds like Cohen doing voice-overs on elevator music. The rare instance of what might be termed political content comes with 'On That Day,' concerning 9/11, but frankly it's too soft and uncommitted to compare to anything on 'The Future.'
Overall I rate it just above Ten New Songs as I think it is an album with more depth to it, certainly more to make you curious, and with each listen it seems to get better. I have given it two stars, if by the same token 'Songs of Leonard Cohen' were five stars, but I advise you to buy the album if you haven't yet because there is enough in it to make it worth the while. To be honest I and many others would've still bought 'Dear Heather' had it been a recording of the mumblings of Leonard's digestive system, such is the status and legacy of his previous works. There's a sense that you can't really go wrong in that you'll always learn something about the mind and soul of one of the most fascinating creative talents alive.
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on 5 November 2004
I was so looking forward to this album after the magnificent Ten New Songs but there are too many disappointing tracks and not enough Leonard Cohen singing (the album should really be credited as Anjani Thomas with Leonard Cohen). On Undertow he does little more than whisper in the background & on Morning Glory he manages no more than a conversation with himself before Anjani Thomas takes over. Villanelle for Our Time is no more than a poetry reading with a littel music in the background. And finally Tennessee Waltz is a very poorly recorded live track from the 80's out of keeping with anything else on the album.
I was tempted to award the album two stars but there are some good songs & I shall keep listening to it in an effort to convince myself that it is better than it really is!
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on 28 July 2010
When you're really keen on Leonard Cohen, you have to have all his albums. It's worth getting this to make your collection complete and there are some good tracks on it But it's not his best ever.
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on 12 October 2012
Wonderful book- Art meets fashion in an informative and beautiful way.
Good to see these fashion drawings and paintings given the artistic status they well merit. Enjoy!
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on 17 November 2013
Fantastic music. Shame there is some distortion on the recording - only appreciated when heard on my home hi-fi - so sounds fine in the car.
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on 1 October 2014
Yet another superb album by the great man. You won't be disappointed. Give your ears a treat and buy this now.
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