Album Review

Old Ideas

Old Ideas

By Leonard Cohen

Columbia/Sony Music
8 / 10
13th February 2012

By Brannavan Gnanalingam


Leonard Cohen’s albums never reward a quick one-off listen. It’s the whole thing about wrapping your ears around the words, rather than the music. And age and the appropriation of his money hasn’t dimmed Cohen’s fervour – he is one of the few artists who was big in the 1960s, who is still putting out fascinating music.

It’s his voice – raspy, pointed, and profound - as expected that’s the star. The music is understated, and does all that is needed to give colour to the words. Occasionally, it does linger a little too much in the background, or does too little within a song, as if at points you might as well just read the lyrics rather than listen to the whole song. But Cohen’s words have often done more than most musicians’ music has been able to do – he was of course, as is oft-repeated, a critically acclaimed writer before making it as a musician.

He starts the album by calling himself a “lazy bastard living in a suit” in ‘Home Again’. He downplays his status as a poet, and he’s full of self-doubt – “he will speak these words of wisdom // like a sage, a man of vision // though he knows he’s really nothing // but the brief elaboration of a tube”. His voice goes between vulnerable (‘Show Me the Place’), bleak (‘Darkness’, in which he equates love with obsession and death), both sleazy and seductive (‘Anyhow’), spiritually empowering (well it seemed spiritual to an atheist like me – in the album highlight ‘Come Healing’), and comforting (‘Lullaby’).

The album covers typical Cohen themes of the sacred, the profane, desire, decay, death, rebirth – Cohen trying to convince himself that he matters. ‘Different Sides’ is a great closer – he seems to make peace with himself, though, pointedly, at the expense of others. “Both of us say that there are laws to obey // but frankly I don’t like your tone // you want to change the way I make love // I want to leave it alone.” It’s an acknowledgement that he’s happy in his ways, and don’t expect him to change. If ‘Old Ideas’ is what a stubborn and irredeemable Cohen will put out, then that’s fine enough with me.





comments
Total: 1
user image
This album is so poetic and beautiful.. Mr. Cohen never ceases to amaze me. And Im liking alot of the covers released for the whole 'Old Ideas With New Friends' thing. Bradford Cox's version of "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" is just incredible: http://pitchfork.com/news/45313-watch-bradford-cox-cover-leonard-cohen/

Posted by Charlotte - anonymous 2 years ago



comments
Related
See more from Leonard Cohen



Album Review Homepage
Go to reviews home
Reviews - Latest