Leonard Cohen

Old Ideas (Columbia)

Phases & Stages

Leonard Cohen

Old Ideas (Columbia)

Leonard Cohen, 77, doubtlessly always possessed wisdom and wit well beyond his years. Now entering his sixth decade of recording and more than 40 years after the prophetic passion of Songs of Love and Hate in 1971, the Canadian poet's experienced tales of personal, sexual, and religious rapture have aged with a sense of wistful defeat and weathered acceptance. Old Ideas, his first album of new material since 2004's Dear Heather, gently approaches that good night with a knowing wink and nod. "I love to speak with Leonard/He's a sportsman and a shepherd/He's a lazy bastard/Living in a suit," intones Cohen on opener "Going Home," a self-effacing psalm. And "gentle" is the operative word here. Sedated and seductive, Cohen's deep voice rarely moves beyond a low rumble, his whispers rolling like fog over the cobblestoned streets of Paris, most notably in the sparse, European flair of "Amen." Consistent with the theme of healing and return, Cohen touches on nearly every turn of his career: the complicated hymnal "Show Me the Place"; the speakeasy charm of "Anyhow" and Dixieland-brushed "Banjo"; and the acoustic "Crazy To Love You," which recalls the sensual nostalgia of his 1968 debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen. While he finds strength in patience and restraint, highlight "Darkness" breaks the mold, Southern blues in disguise. Backed by the Unified Heart Touring Band, led by local musical director and bassist Roscoe Beck, Neil Larsen's rolling keys, and paired with the Webb Sisters' swaying backing vocals, a spurned Cohen dances with the devil like Bob Dylan in Together Through Life, conceding: "I ain't had much loving yet/But that's always been your call/Hey I don't miss it baby/I got no taste for anything at all." All told, Old Ideas might be Cohen's strongest effort since taking Manhattan.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Leonard Cohen
Texas Book Festival
I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
A peak behind Leonard Cohen's mystique

Melanie Haupt, Oct. 26, 2012

Collector's Disease
Leonard Cohen
Box sets as catalog ghetto

Austin Powell, Dec. 23, 2011

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Austin Powell
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
Portland soul singer gets his second act

March 11, 2022

Spoon’s Britt Daniel confronts <I>Lucifer on the Sofa</I>
Spoon’s Britt Daniel confronts Lucifer on the Sofa
Q&A on his return to Austin and making a real rock record

Feb. 11, 2022


Leonard Cohen

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle