Popular Problems - Album Reviews

This section is dedicated to the new studio album and the Dublin concert video
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sturgess66
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by sturgess66 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:06 pm

The article includes a a few quotes from Leonard about the album/songs -

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/ ... r-problems
Leonard Cohen on Collaborating with Madonna Collaborator Patrick Leonard for Upcoming 'Popular Problems'

By Phil Gallo | September 11, 2014 1:24 PM EDT
Leonard Cohen, 2013.

Image
Leonard Cohen in concert at The O2 Arena in London on September 5, 2013.
REX USA/Brian Rasic/Rex


The keyboardist-producer who helped shape Madonna's work in the late 1980s has given Leonard Cohen's new album Popular Problems a consistently bluesy tone full of keyboards, horn sections and an occasional solo violin. Patrick Leonard, who co-wrote three songs on Cohen's last album, co-wrote eight of the nine songs on Popular Problems, which Columbia Records will release Sept. 23, two days after Cohen turns 80. The pair also has half of another album in the can.

"It was a very agreeable collaboration because of an absence of ego and an abundance of musical ideas on Patrick's part," Cohen explained during an interview with Bob Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum, after the album was played at the residence of the Canadian Consulate.

"I would have a rhythm in mind and a position" on tempo and accompaniment, Cohen noted. "I had the function of the veto. Most of the musical ideas were Patrick's, with a bit of modifications. Whether there were horns or violin, all of those things were decided mutually."

Cohen, the leading French-Canadian poet-musician of the 1960s whose work found a new audience the last 20 years, especially through covers of his "Hallelujah," said ideas for some of the new songs have been kicking around for decades. "A Street," in which he writes "the party's over / but I've landed on my feet / I'll be standing on the corner / where there used to be a street," began shortly after 9/11; "Born in Chains," the one song he wrote solo, has been kicking around for 40 years.

"I've rewritten it many times to accommodate a change in my theological position," said Cohen. "The chords kind of interest me and we came up with this pure gospel version. It's the one song on the album I'm not 100 percent behind. I didn't nail it, but I've got a thumbtack in it."

If he tours -- he says the road is "beckoning" - and "I run it down 200 or 300 times, I'm gonna get it."

Other songs on the album, Cohen said, came together at "shockingly alarming speed," attributing his usual lengthy breaks between albums to "an addiction to perfection and partly sheer laziness."

"I've said it before -- being a songwriter is like being a nun: you're married to a mystery," Cohen said to hearty laughter. "My methods are obscure. My methods are obscure and not to be replicated. A song will yield itself if you stick with it long enough. But you've got to stick with it for a very long time."
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by cohenadmirer » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:16 pm

Interesting news( at least to me ) that 'Born in chains' has been ' kicking around' for about 40 years ! :shock:
We all knew that Leonard tends to take a long time to develop things - now we now how long , perhaps in extreme cases !
Leonard's work resonates
Brighton 1979; Dublin , Manchester june 2008; glasgow, manchester Nov 2008; Liverpool july 2009 ; Barcelona Sept 2009 ;marseille, lille september2010: Ghent August 2012;Barcelona October 2012;Montreal x2 November 2012: 2013; Saint John NB April 2013; Brussels June 2013;Manchester August 2013; Leeds , Birmingham September 2013; Amsterdam September 2013
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by sturgess66 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:18 pm

Not sure if these should go in NEWS - or here but -
Here's another article - this one from Rolling Stone - with more quotes. I like this quote -
"Cohen and Leonard say they have "half of another record finished," and the former will soon decide whether he wants to tour. Either way, he knows how he would spend some of his time on the road: continuing his attempt to finally finish "Born in Chains." I'll have another shot or two at it when I go on the road – if I go on the road," he said. "The road is beckoning. I know if I run that song down in concert two-or-three-hundred times, I'm going to get it."
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/live- ... w-20140911
Leonard Cohen Offers Rare Peek Into His Process at 'Popular Problems' Preview
"If I knew where the good songs came from, I'd go there more often"

Image
Leonard Cohen
Simone Joyner/Getty Images


By Steve Appleford | September 11, 2014

Leonard Cohen has yet to conquer the struggle of songwriting, and he doesn't expect to anytime soon. "If I knew where the good songs came from, I'd go there more often," he said last night, receiving laughs at a private preview of his 13th studio album, Popular Problems, at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles. "Being a songwriter is like being a nun: You're married to a mystery. It's not a particularly generous mystery, but other people have that experience with matrimony anyway."

Elegantly dressed in a black suit, with a fedora resting on his knee, Cohen sat with Grammy Museum executive director Bob Santelli to discuss the new nine-song collection, out September 23rd, days after his 80th birthday. The song he struggled with the longest, he said, was "Born in Chains," an understated gospel meditation that he's worked on for decades.

"That's been kicking around for 40 years," he said with a smile. "I've rewritten the lyric many times to accommodate the changes in my theological position, which is very insecure."

He also pointed to the closing verse of another track, "A Street," which he wrote in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but only now decided it was ready for release: "The party's over/but I've landed on my feet/I'll be standing on this corner/where there used to be a street."

"A lot of young writers ask me for advice – mistakenly, because my methods are obscure and not to be replicated," he explained. "The only thing I can say is, a song will yield if you stick with it long enough. But long enough is way beyond any reasonable duration. Sometimes a song has to hang around for a decade or two before it finds its expression."

By contrast, the songs "You Got Me Singing" and "Did I Ever Love You" were written "very quickly," he said. His collaborator on the album was producer and songwriter Patrick Leonard, known for his work with Madonna and Elton John.

"Some of them came together with shockingly alarming speed," said Cohen, who recorded many of the songs at his home studio. "Usually, I take a long, long time – partly because of an addiction to perfection, partly just sheer laziness."

As for the album itself, songs like the smoky "Almost Like the Blues" (already released to fans who pre-ordered the album) travel through heartache and human failings with an equally light touch. Cohen's vocals subtly stretch from a growl to a whisper, making the most mournful moments somehow hopeful. On "Did I Ever Love You," he begins in the voice of a tortured romantic before the track slips toward country beat and a rousing female chorus. "Nevermind," meanwhile, includes a sample of a woman singing an Arabic greeting of peace.

Cohen and Leonard say they have "half of another record finished," and the former will soon decide whether he wants to tour. Either way, he knows how he would spend some of his time on the road: continuing his attempt to finally finish "Born in Chains."

"I'll have another shot or two at it when I go on the road – if I go on the road," he said. "The road is beckoning. I know if I run that song down in concert two-or-three-hundred times, I'm going to get it."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/live- ... z3D2JFnJED
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by Tchocolatl » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:26 am

With such a title. Born in chain. Not easy.

Moustique also wrote that Never Mind shall make people talk the most.

The road is beckoning, oh my, the old gypsy, can't he take it easy ? No, certainly not, I guess that he would consider it like chains, or something.

Don't take me wrong I would be delighted to see him on stage again, I am just worry about the difficulties of touring at 80.
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by blonde madonna » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:05 am

The advance reviews sound good, production, horns, violin, bluesy, new songs, all sounds very promising.
Have mine preordered on iTunes as I just can't wait any longer than I have to.

I think he may be teasing us with the tour hints....
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by Tchocolatl » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:48 am

It is understanding, blonde madonna. As the album is unveiling itself little by little, tst-stelee, tst-stelee (hear the first notes of I'm Your Man) it is hard not to go wild and rush to hear it. I have almost run to my local music store after having read these last reviews. But I resisted the temptation. :D

He would not tease us with such a serious thing as another tour, though, I do believe. He may really think about it. As long as he takes the road in the best conditions, why not?
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"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by cohenadmirer » Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:56 am

Another tour ...... just the possibility :D :D :D
As for the next album , if half finished and there is a possibility each song may take a decade or two to finish , maybe will be released as part of the centenary celebrations ? ;-)
Leonard's work resonates
Brighton 1979; Dublin , Manchester june 2008; glasgow, manchester Nov 2008; Liverpool july 2009 ; Barcelona Sept 2009 ;marseille, lille september2010: Ghent August 2012;Barcelona October 2012;Montreal x2 November 2012: 2013; Saint John NB April 2013; Brussels June 2013;Manchester August 2013; Leeds , Birmingham September 2013; Amsterdam September 2013
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by Junk » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:51 am

A review in the Melbourne Age -

http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/ ... 0fve0.html

Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems is a portrait of the artist in his joyful late period

Bernard Zuel

Senior music writer

Tower of song: Popular Problems is familiar yet still captures you anew.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Leonard Cohen
POPULAR PROBLEMS
(Sony)

The good and the good news – there is no bad news, I may as well tell you that now – about Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems is that its shapes are familiar but it still manages to take you to somewhere new and captures you anew.

The better and best news is that you will sing and dance and laugh with Popular Problems. Not just to the end of time but a bit beyond it, for Leonard Cohen is a fine companion.

We are now familiar with this late period version of Cohen's joy in life. It has featured not just on the modern albums but particularly in the live shows that crackle with pleasure, on and off stage. And warmth, always warmth.


Of course we've always had moments in the 40-odd years of his relatively sparse but diamond-littered recording career where we've been able to laugh with him. Even if it meant digging deeper and deeper to find the kernel of dry humour or approaching many things with a sardonic eye.

However, these days we get first of all the idea, to quote a line from this record, that "the party's over but I've landed on my feet" and that this ought to be celebrated. And then there's the more serious and sustainable knowing there's more to like than dislike about the state of his (our?) life.

What's important to note about this is that it is not a repudiation or even contradiction of earlier moments of doubt and scepticism, disappointment and despair. You know – what some would say were the key parts of both his career and reputation. No: Leonard may be laughing but he's not doing so with his eyes closed.

So bits of the world still stink, bits of relationships still fall off and bits of his wry take still sneak in, like this line from Almost Like The Blues where he runs through some of the ugliness out there: "there's torture and there's killing and there's all my bad reviews".

The many, many good lines do, as ever, sound so effortless and yet so refined to a point of sharpness. It is his calling card, after all. But it is too easy to forget how equally witty and refined Cohen's music is, something often only recognised when someone else sings his songs.

Did I Ever Love You has the skippity rhythm of country folk in the chorus, the low gospel piano in the verses and a rougher than usual burr in his voice. An odd combination that shifts beneath your feet while you're contemplating the questions being asked by Cohen and his coterie of female voices.

My Oh My patches together those partners too, some widescreen twang with Memphis horns and this time a lounge bar rhythm that is more relaxed than loose. Meanwhile, Nevermind has Arabic keening with a kind of vampy organ riff and horns and strings which are more Philadelphia silky than southern heat.

Actually, oddly perhaps, it is country music which is the most frequent contributor to these songs. Even when discussing the tribulations of a slave in ancient Egypt.

Furthermore, there is underneath so much of it – country, lounge bar or almost traditional – a delicious rhythmic feel, a sensuous shuffling of your ions in a manner that doesn't require words.

It just feels elemental and easy and sexy and smart. Like the man himself.

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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by blonde madonna » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:33 am

A very teasing review, Junk, is it country, is it lounge, is it gospel, is it traditional, vampy, rythmic, that man needs to make a decision!

I have no idea where you live Tchocolatl (Canada?, France?, just wild guesses) but when you live where I do (the other side of the world) it all feels too much to hope for :?
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by jerry » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:05 pm

Another odd review. I still have not read a single definitive review.
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by Tchocolatl » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:18 pm

Oh! blonde madonna, it was not a condamnation of your haste or anything about you! (I do not believe that people must act just like me, we are all different and this is ok, the richness of the world that is created because of this). And I was joking on how crazy I was turning : they are not in store yet. Anywhere. :D

Jerry, what do you mean exactly by a single definitive review? What would you like to read?

About the music? The lyrics? The musicians ? What?
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"He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."

Leonard Cohen
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by jerry » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:23 pm

I'd like to read a review that translates well into English. Other than a description of the songs I'm not getting anything from these reviews.
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by fusional » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:27 pm

5* Review from The Independent newspaper in the UK.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 28932.html
*****

Some people never grow up; others seem to have been born old.

Among rock musicians, the former predominates to an alarming degree, while the most obvious case of the latter is surely Leonard Cohen; but then, even by the time of his debut album he was already a good 10 years older than his contemporaries, and it showed. But what’s fascinating about Cohen is how his popularity has increased as he has aged: it’s as if he’s become a beacon for a generation, rewarded for testing untrodden territory for us all.

What is remarkable is how he has retained such good humour, even while surveying the tide of contemporary wretchedness. Released to coincide with his 80th birthday, Popular Problems – note the drolly contradictory title – finds his agreeable baritone growl applied as usual to romantic disappointment and political venality with vivid, jolting metaphors (“I see the ghost of culture, with numbers on his wrist”) cutting to the quick.

Elsewhere the bitterness is spiked with Cohen’s characteristically wry, mordant humour – most notably the litany of ghastliness in “Almost Like The Blues” that includes “there’s torture, and there’s killing, and there’s all my bad reviews”. Though frankly, you have to search hard for a bad one these days.

The customary religious imagery prevails throughout, with salvation sought for unspecified sins, and sensuality strained through scripture: there’s even a reference to “the hallelujah hymn” which adds a personal frisson to the closing “You Got Me Singing”. But for an old geezer, he knows how to keep the listener on their toes, purely through lyrical cunning.

Musically, the songs are deceptively simple, employing a pared-down arrangement formula that pairs bluesy organ and electric piano with the female backing chorus that’s become a staple of the Cohen sound, all taken at a relaxed tempo that rarely rises above a gentle trot. As he observes in “Slow”, “You wanna get there soon – I wanna get there last”. And make it last, too.

Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by JudasPriest » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:29 pm

Four star review from Irish Times

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music ... -1.1925609

Album Choice - Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems
Joe Breen
Fri, Sep 12, 2014, 00:00

Leonard Cohen turns 80 on September 21st. But if his body is gradually bending to time’s will, his mind is ticking along just fine.

This first album since Old Ideas, Cohen’s 2008 second coming (and his 13th album in total) is, like its predecessor, remarkable in so many ways that it’s a wonder he ever considered giving up the stage. Forced into touring after his business manager dipped into his bank account, Cohen has emerged as sagacious and warm, rather than the clichéd saturnine figure of long depiction.

He is also having fun in his own self-deprecating way. Typically, the first of the nine tracks is called Slow and playfully addresses age and sex: “It’s not because I’m old/It’s not the life I led/I always liked it slow/That’s what my momma said.”

His puckish sense of self strikes a more serious note on the single Almost Like the Blues, which links images of everyday horror to his guilt: “I saw some people starving/There was murder, there was rape/Their villages were burning/They were trying to escape/I couldn’t meet their glances/I was staring at my shoes/It was acid, it was tragic/It was almost like the blues”.

Cohen’s signature gravel pipes are contrasted as ever with soulful female backing vocals and softly seductive arrangements. Producer and co-writer Patrick Leonard has proved a strong partner. The melodies and arrangements settle into a more American groove than on Old Ideas, and Cohen sounds assured and engaged – his timing and tone are right on the money.

Cohen’s mastery and love of language (“a weekend on your lips, a lifetime in your eyes” goes one line) is evident. Themes include guilt and forgiveness; his Jewish heritage is also mapped, not uncritically, along with a deep spiritual longing. His horizons are wide and references sometimes oblique. But mercy and healing are a key part of the Cohen package. The balm of the lilting My Oh My is followed by the edgy Nevermind; the hymnic intensity of Born in Chains leads into the folky resolve of You Got Me Singing.

It’s an uplifting conclusion to an album that as the title infers, deals with the everyday in an extraordinary way
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Re: Popular Problems - Album Reviews

Post by jerry » Sat Sep 13, 2014 2:41 am

"This first album since Old Ideas, Cohen’s 2008 second coming"

Old Ideas came out in 2012 not 2008.
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
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