Feature

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas

The 77-year-old Canadian poet turned songwriter returns here to themes he’s visited throughout his career.

★★★

Leonard Cohen’s first album in eight years likely won’t win him hordes of new fans, said Douglas Heselgrave in PasteMagazine.com. “It’s too intense, too raw” to attract the easy-listening crowd and “too subdued for the average rock fan.” But Cohen partisans who give Old Ideas a try will be rewarded with the artist’s “strongest, most unified album in decades.” The 77-year-old Canadian poet turned songwriter returns here to themes he’s visited throughout his career: sex, love, death, and God. He addresses them, though, with his usual “wicked wit” and “an attitude that is anything but sentimental,” said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune. Cohen delivers his musings in a voice that’s “deeper, darker, more foreboding than ever.” But the most welcome change is the absence of the “gratuitous synthesizers” that marred other recent efforts. “The sparer, more spacious arrangements”—sometimes little more than piano, acoustic guitar, and bass—“allow Cohen to inject his deadpan baritone with a subtle theatricality.”

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