Customer Reviews: Old Ideas
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 31, 2012
Should "Old Ideas" turn out to represent the 77 year old Canadians last album (which we must pray it doesn't) then it is clear that Leonard Cohen has truly saved some of the best until last. It is his first new album of material since 2004's "Dear Heather" and displays all the Cohen characteristics that have made him as essential to music as water is to the human condition. In these ten songs we find perennial themes of love, regret, reflection, bitterness, hope and most of all an unsentimental template, which expounds in Cohen's words "a manual for living with defeat". It was ever thus and over a great career where the Guardian recently described him as a "sombre prophet, mordant wisecracker, and repentant cad" he has brought his own special brand of musical melancholy and deadpan nobility that demands the epithet of "true original".

"Old Ideas" is an album free from the jauntiness of a "Closing Time" or the pounding electronica of "First we take Manhattan". If there is a previous reference point then perhaps "Bird on the wire" comes closest. The songs unfold with no sense of urgency and are often slothful, ponderous but utterly brilliant. The album kicks off in splendid style with "Going home" where Cohen has a conversation with his artistic self and announces "I love to speak with Leonard/He's a sportsman and a shepherd/He's a lazy b.../Living in a suit". Throughout the Webb Sisters add the usual heavenly backing vocals and the song gently concludes with Cohen's reprise of the lines above. The second song "Amen" could have happily graced a Tom Waits album while the brilliant longing piano ballad "Show me the place" with its laconic shuffle is a stellar highlight. The blues of "Darkness" strikes this reviewer as matching the mortality preoccupations of Dylan's "Time out of mind" as Cohen announces "I know my days are few ... I thought the past would have lasted me, but the darkness got that too." As usual Cohen's lyrics present a masterclass no more on the paean of self regret that is "Anyhow" which sounds like Dr John with a hangover. Other highlights include the wonderful tight strung guitar ballad "Crazy to love you" which you instinctively feel could have been brilliantly covered by the late Johnny Cash. It is surely one of Cohen's best songs? Alternatively "Come healing" with its sweet Webb Sisters introduction sounds hymn like as Cohen exhorts us to "Behold the gates of mercy/In arbitrary space/And none of us deserving/The cruelty or the grace". Of the final three songs "Banjo" is almost funky and Cohen's repeated lines in that tell tale droll voice are a joy. The delightful "Lullaby" has flashes of a lonely harmonica and meanders beautiful leading one critic to argue "its passion is impeccably restrained". Finally the whole kit and kaboodle is rounded off by the organ blues and spent passion of "Different sides" where Cohen languidly regrets that "Both of us say there are laws to obey/Yeah, but frankly I don't like your tone/You want to change the way I make love/ But I want to leave it alone". Great stuff.

The tempo throughout "Old ideas" is stately and restrained. Cohen plies his trade as a wordsmith with consummate skill and that old voice with its deep tones resonates down the years. In "Old Ideas" Cohen has spent time carefully crafting a set of songs that are his best in years. It does have a valedictory tone and who knows if there is more to come. That said if the old goat ceases forthwith to weave his magic this album is a fine testament to a body of work which it utterly unique. Thus as Cohen's lifelong friend Jennifer Warnes has rightly observed he retains a very firm hold on "The place where God and love and literature meet". Long may he run.
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on February 20, 2012
I had never even heard of Leonard Cohen until a few years ago, despite being a lover of most genres of music.

A local performer with an angelic voice (Chelsea Berry, also available on Amazon) sang a few of his songs during some of her performances, so I made a mental note to find out more about him.

Well, it was only this past week that I got around to it and all I can say is I wish I had known of him much earlier in my life. His music is like nothing I've ever heard, in that it "speaks" directly to me. It is soulful, wise, thought-provoking, soothing, ethereal ...

So at age 62, here I am a hook, line and sinker Leonard Cohen fan. I have much listening to catch up on!
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on February 1, 2012
As a long-time Leonard Cohen fan, it is quite remarkable to see that this great new CD is currently Amazon's #1 seller. If you check out Apple's iTunes
Top 10 charts, it is either #1, 2 or 3 in almost every country. Cohen newbies will not be aware of the fact that his albums have almost never reached the heights
in terms of sales. But something has changed - maybe a record company that has actually promoted him, or a public that is finally prepared to pay attention to music that goes beyond the usual happy pop formula.
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on May 6, 2012
I am grateful to Philip Roth and to Leonard Cohen for so intelligently exploring the phases of physical love and physical decay. Naturally, some are more fun than others. But, if we manage to live long enough, we will all face these inevitable developments. I'm not much younger than either of these gentlemen, so I can really relate. I hope their words are as welcome to those more youthful.
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on February 2, 2012
It's been far too long. I had reservations. For the last 30+ years his STUDIO albums were poorly/over produced, destroying even great songs. We had to wait for better live or even covers, to fully appreciate the songs. The Future might be the exception, but still overly produced, which killed many otherwise great songs.
This is a great album. Stunned!
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on March 13, 2012
I never heard of Leonard Cohen?? But the other night I heard his new cd on the radio. I liked what I heard very much so I ordered it. Now that I have it, I love it. I am going to dive in and order I'm Your Man since everybody raves about that one too.
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on July 29, 2014
I hate to say anything negative about Leonard Cohen because I love him so, but his precious golden voice is gone. The poetry is still wondrous though. And this album is like kneeling and sharing a prayer with him, at a whisper. So there is that, it is quite intimate. So I am still glad I bought it. Kind of like saying goodbye...
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on February 23, 2012
I have listened to this album several times every night since I got it and it has become my favorite in that time. It is almost unlike anything that has come before. We should only hope that we could create something this incredible at any age. Make no mistake; this could only come about with the wisdom that comes with age. I have often as a woman been irritated with Cohen for his attitude about women but I appreciate his present space and all offenses are forgiven. I'll have to buy several more copies for friends who need to hear it. It is not a collection for the young; it is a gift to the myriad who have followed him since the beginning. We are silver haired traveling companions who understand what he is saying because we are on the same journey at the same point in our lives. If anyone gives us a reason to continue this journey, it is Leonard because he keeps creating such wonderful music. I would be satisfied with listening to most of the wonderful things he has done in the past built he keeps giving and creating. He keeps me creating as well, thank you Leonard for being you.
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on February 1, 2012
Quite simply a masterpiece by the master. His voice is still as deep and soulful as it has ever been. The songwriting and arrangements are superb.

This along with Live in London is the best music Leonard Cohen has made in years.
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on April 13, 2012
I bought this album recently and am completely hooked. I've been listening to it over and over again. I pretty much grew up with his music over the years and have seen his voice change, but the quality of poetry never does. I guess that is one aspect that has ruled supreme since his emergence from McGill university years ago. This is not just good songwriting, but complex poetry and emotions put forward simply through haunting melodies. Thank God for the liner notes with this CD as the words resonate crystal clear. It is whispered in your ear with melody and sometimes ...just a word whisper, slowly softly. Lenny Cohen is always reflective and self critical, even when he is commenting on society in general, and this one comes out right on top. Love it. I hope here is a message in this for record companies that have pushed an excessive amount of (c)rap with bad poetry, hip hop with uncontrolled angst and low level pop for mass consumption. After many years and decades of suffering (and perhaps led by You Tube revival), good melody, good poetry and just mature creation by the Masters is back. Thank God for 'old ideas'.
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