CD of the Year: Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen
A beautiful expression of the wisdom gained from love and loss
by Mark KidelMonday, 24 December 2012
Leonard Cohen enjoying the fruits of old age
Leonard Cohen has been the king of melancholy ever since he set out on his slow journey through the dark side. Befriending the black dog means being aware of the finite nature of life at every moment. It’s also about relishing slowness. As he enjoys mature old age, Cohen now inhabits, with almost joyful resignation, the blue mood he has made his own – to the irritation of those who have dismissed him as a purveyor of self-indulgent bedsit blues.
He was always old before his age: there is, in many ways, nothing new about Cohen’s Old Ideas, a collection of profoundly moving songs of love and loss, filled with poetry and humour, sung in that sensual sotto voce, the perfect antidote to the rebellious histrionics of so much rock’n’roll, and yet infinitely more radical and subversive. Although the album is tinged with valedictory sadness, there is surprising variety in the colours and textures of music and lyric and the production is inspired, well-judged and flawless.
Among a run of stand-out tracks, there is "Show Me the Place", a half-whispered exploration of pain and surrender, and "Lullaby", a song that bids sleep come in a world torn by doubt and grief. The beauty and honesty of this work is almost too great to bear. Cohen isn’t just a consummate poet and musician, but a guy who’s been scorched by wisdom and bears his wounds with grace rather than self-pity. No other album this year, even Dylan’s magisterial Tempest, comes near the depth achieved so effortlessly in Old Ideas. A classic.
Leonard Cohen's previous album (January 2012)
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