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Published: 2012/04/11
by Ron Hart

Leonard Cohen
Old Ideas
Columbia

Aging gracefully in pop music is a hat trick very few have successfully handled. And Leonard Cohen is one of those rare cases where the November of an artist’s years is quintessentially chronicled in song with the release of his twelfth studio LP, Old Ideas. Recorded in his home studio with a small ensemble of musicians and longtime backing singers Jennifer Warnes, Sharon Robinson, Dana Glover and The Webb Sisters, the Bard of Canada scales down the synth-driven sound that has dominated his work since I’m Your Man by embracing the folky simplicity of his early years and coloring outside its lines with elements of gospel, blues, flamenco and modal jazz. These taut, airy ten tracks, highlighted by such beautiful hymns as “Amen”, “Show Me The Place” and “Come Healing”, finds Cohen reflecting upon his 77 years on earth with a wizened, monk-like sense of rumination that revisits many of the subjects he has expounded upon since 1968—life, death, sex, religion. Only on Old Ideas, this self-described “lazy bastard living in a suit” does so with a keen sense of existentialism that could only come from a man who can croon a line like “I got no future, I know my days are few”, as he does on “Darkness”, not with a sense of sorrow and finality but rather as a confirmation of his sense of purpose in the twilight of his life.

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