Old Ideas (Vinyl) Limited Edition
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Vinyl LP pressing includes a CD of the album. 2012 album from master singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. Here are 10 new songs that mine the heart, shake the body and break the boundaries as everybody knows only Leonard can do. A signature of our time, Leonard's baritone holds us like the voices of Hank, Frank and Ray. These are songs that nobody knows and everyone will treasure. The album was produced with Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo. Complementing Cohen's signature baritone on Old Ideas are the exceptional vocalists Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) and Jennifer Warnes. The album's cover design and drawings are Cohen's own.
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What's old about this record, and yet again renewed, is "the penitential hymn" and the plea for mercy from an unbending Law and a Lord whose grace is given but rarely. Cohen's persona is at once the victim, the perpetrator and the observer, but never the innocent bystander, of life in this world -- rather a withstander, who stands with the rest of us even when we stand against each other. His time-ravaged voice, his words polished as rocks left behind by a glacier long ago, "gather up the brokenness" of all our hearts.
This time around we have ten songs of three to five minutes each, and every one is deeply resonant. As usual with Cohen, but more than ever here, the boundary line between speaking and singing, between poem and song, almost disappears. Yet this album is surprisingly tuneful -- not upbeat of course, but achingly melodic, and the arrangements bring this out with a variety of contributions from solo violin, cornet and other instruments. Indeed this is more varied musically than many of Cohen's records, each song having its own sound, and as we learn from the liner notes, its own set of producers, arrangers, engineers and musicians collaborating with Cohen. The women's voices (including those of Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, the Webb Sisters, and Jennifer Warnes) are especially and variously wonderful here.Read more ›
It's of course silly to complain that Laughing Len sings about death too much. Death is one of the life forces of poetry, Leonard's other great line of work. Death is an understandable preoccupation of almost all art, and just about every kind of music apart from the fluffiest pop consciously drenches itself in it. So, that Cohen studies the process and ideas of death is unremarkable in itself.
The old ham has been closing down, ageing and dying with particular vigour for nearly quarter of a century, though. It's a paradoxically sincere shtick, and it began in earnest with "I Can't Forget" and "Tower Of Song".
Death is closer than ever. Leonard Cohen has had to come out of retirement for Old Ideas and these poetic last throes are, in line with the natural order of things, more real than ever.
How well put are the goodbyes on Old Ideas, though, given that Leonard Cohen said them all a few times a long time ago, eased himself into retirement, artistically said hello to death, all that? Do "Going Home" and what follows make for a curious encore?
Leonard Cohen is markedly paradoxical. His lavish humility tells you he's long sustained a tremendous ego. If he leaks self-aggrandisement in the studio, he does so most in his penchant for anthems. A couple turn up on Old Ideas.Read more ›
He's a sportsman and a shepherd
He's a lazy bastard
Living in a suit
But he does say what I tell him
Even though it isn't welcome
He just doesn't have the freedom
To refuse "
... and so begins Leonard Cohen's new album, "Old Ideas". Is it the voice of his higher Self, his conscience or even the voice of God himself, speaking about the singer-songwriter? Does Cohen see himself as a reluctant conduit for the Divine Will? There have been many such allusions in his songs before, so why not especially now? After another such verse Cohen's own "voice" itself answers,
" Going home
Without my sorrow
Some time tomorrow
Without my burden
Behind the curtain
Without the costume
That I wore"
With this song he sets the stage and calls the tune for a deeply moving, entirely naked meditation on the gooseflesh-inducing nearness of mortality, HIS mortality. For "Old Ideas" is just that - a characteristically candid and disarmingly clear series of thoughts that can only come from a deeply inward artist as he looks squarely into the promises, sadnesses, mysteries and even reliefs, of death. After all, could that be her, the black Angel of Death on the cover, with her shadow looming discomfortingly close to Cohen as he sits, seemingly unconcerned? "Old Ideas" are the thoughts and ruminations that are privy to the elderly - for their special place of experience can only truly be known deep in the flesh and heart of that time of life.Read more ›
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