Leonard Cohen’s work has always displayed something of a precocious, wise nature. Even in his younger years, he evinced a status of a prophet, a visionary, a seer, an artist – perspicacious and talented way beyond his years. It should come as no surprise that his later works, his close to octogenarian efforts are stellar, beautiful, haunting and supremely fitting. It’s hard to say that Cohen finally fits into his skin because he excelled in every stage, but somehow, something fits in a way that didn’t necessarily fit before. If you can glean anything from 40 percent of the album then his newest work promises to be an important, dense album. The title, Old Ideas, perfect in many ways, reflects upon the layered experience of the songs. They are indeed old ideas: old religious ideas, old ideas of wisdom, his own old ideas, circles on his work, but old ideas infused with the urgency of age.
The man transcends any limitations of cool, or legendary, he is just a force to reckon with, a force usually on the fringe of culture, looking in with his prophetic eyes. Cohen’s about to release his first LP in seven years, and we here at Jewcy couldn’t be more excited. Recently The New Yorker published his poem, Going Home, which is the newest song to be released from his upcoming CD Old Ideas. Three of his songs are available in their studio edition (Going Home, Show Me the Place, and Darkness) and one more song, Lullaby, can be found on Youtube.
Going Home, set to plangent choral music, organs, and the light pitter patter of drums, clothes the gorgeous poem of two Leonard Cohens’ discussing death, religious aspirations, insecurities, vanities, and the comforts of death or old age. Darkness, a song about an enveloping darkness, whether the spectre of death or depression, finds Cohen listing much of what he used to enjoy captured by darkness. The music, somewhat of a slow burn, jazzy, romp, belies the dreariness of the lyrics, a contrast that Cohen often makes use of. Show Me the Place, the most religious song of the new bunch, finds Cohen searching for beginnings and endings, taking stock of a humble life, taking comfort in the little good a person can do in their limited time, with a fitting simple piano in the background, a steady swirl of violins, and eventually, a choral background that takes the song into transcendence. Lastly, Lullaby, a live favorite for the past two years, struggles with both promises and lies of love, with a wailing harmonica, organ, and a simple acoustic accompaniment backing up this heart wrenching song.
Welcome back, Mr. Cohen, we missed you.