Find Your Next Favourite Book
Our Money-Back Guarantee

Old Ideas ()

by

While it's not normally a quality one associates with Leonard Cohen, he's always possessed a droll, self-effacing sense of humor. He expresses it on the opening track of Old Ideas in the third person: "I love to speak with Leonard/He's a sportsman and a shepherd/He's a lazy bastard/Living in a suit...." Have no fear, however, Cohen's topical standards, on yearning, struggle, spirituality, love, loss, lust, and mortality are all in abundance here, offered with a poet's insight. It is among Cohen's most spiritual recordings because it brings all of his familiar topics into the fold with a graceful acceptance. He's surrounded by friends on Old Ideas. Patrick Leonard, Dino Soldo, and Anjani Thomas get production and co-writing credits. Sharon Robinson, Dana Glover, Jennifer Warnes, and the Webb Sisters all appear on backing vocals. Cohen mixes up the musical forms far more than he has in the past. The loungey electronic keyboards on "Going Home" are balanced by Glover's female backing chorale, an acoustic piano, and Bela Santelli's violin. The sly, minor-key Gypsy jazz groove on "Amen" is played by a banjo, violin, and Cohen's guitar; it tempers his searing lyric, which posits the notion that the totality of love, divine or otherwise, can only truly be achieved when the object of desire has seen his worst, metaphorically and literally. "Show Me the Place" finds Cohen once again adopting the Protestant hymnal as stirringly as he did on "Halleluja" -- albeit more quietly -- and wedding it to his simple, direct melodic sensibility. The song is a prayer, not for redemption, but to go ever deeper into the cloud of spiritual unknowing before his demise, to discover the terrain where suffering itself is birthed. Warnes' gorgeous backing vocals, piano, guitar, and violin accompany his beneath-the-basement, cracked-leather baritone in delivering the song with conviction and vulnerability. Cohen's live band joins him on "Darkness," where he evokes, musically, his love of both late-'40s R&B and gospel, even as he frankly discusses his own -- and everyone's -- entrance into the big goodnight. He also revisits the spartan sound of his early career with "Crazy to Love You," written with Thomas, on which his only accompaniment is his acoustic guitar. Here, he wrestles with an unwanted but nonetheless nagging attachment to erotic desire. "Come Healing" is another hymn, with Glover's vocals, church organ, violin, and Cohen's croaking, old-man-in-the-pew vocal; he sings with reverence: "O see the darkness yielding/That tore the light apart/Come healing of the reason/Come healing of the heart...." "Banjo" is a country-blues that gives the songwriter a chance to indulge his love for Hank Williams while reflecting on Hurricane Katrina as Soldo's New Orleans-inspired horns add a haunted effect to the tune. Cohen speaks not only for himself, but the ghosts of restless spirits wandering in his vision. "Lullabye"'s lyrics, accompanied by a high lonesome harmonica and a whispering jazz organ, counterintuitively offer a gentle comfort to the disconsolate. "Different Sides," with its slow, loopy groove, is a shuffle that addresses unresolved conflict in lust and law (spiritual and carnal), bringing Old Ideas to a close with an ironic tension. Cohen meets conflict head-on and accepts it for what it is -- you can almost see him simultaneously singing sincerely while slyly winking an eye. Old Ideas is a very good Cohen album; it may be even be a great one; but that doesn't matter in the present. What does is that it bears listening to, over and over (and over) again. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi Hide synopsis

Find your copy

Buy it from  $7.99
Buy new from  $12.79

Change currency

Reviews of Old Ideas

Write this item's first Alibris review Review it now

Discussions about Old Ideas

Start a new discussion
  1. What's on your mind? Review post guidelines

Get 300 in vouchers and other goodies. Sign up for newsletter No, thank you.

You're signed up (and we you). Watch for our Welcome e-mail and your first voucher. Thanks!