Greetings to you new l.c. fan-
i am speaking to you from the perspective of a former fanatic who has since come back to earth. i have traveled to cohen's homeland of montreal more than once. i have collected all of his books of poetry (i recommend them all, specifically, as a starter, the collection Stranger Music as it won't cost you an arm and a leg and it will be easier to find), his novels (the favorite game is his first novel and an absolute work of genius), his studio albums and other items that are very very rare. i have performed his songs myself in montreal as a sort of tribute. as i write this, i realize just how crazy i was about being an l.c. fan.
with that said, i have left that part of me behind. i have seen heroes (l.c. among them) start to show their age (not literally of course) and i have decided to not allow my former fanatical self to keep me from commenting on new work by old heroes (l.c., tom waits, paul simon to name a few). still, one has to recognize that, no matter how much an artist shows their age, there is often still traces of greatness in their newer output. Old Ideas is no exception. there are certainly very nice moments on the album- show me the place, the darkness, crazy to love you to name three.
If you want to hear cohen at different stages of his career (not quite the chameleon that tom waits is but still, he has undergone some changes), try the following albums...
Songs of Leonard Cohen (his debut from 1968)- absolutely stunning album from beginning to end- mysterious, poetic, atmostpheric with simple chord changes that fit the complexity of the lyrics and the beauty of the melodies well.
Recent Songs- I don't know where to start with this one- his lyrics were seemingly coming from deeper in his poetic soul at this point- there are not too many direct "So Long Marianne" or "Bird on the Wire" type songs here- still, the production, melody and lyrics are gorgeous.
Various Positions- has a few of his staples (dance me to the end of love, if it be your will, and hallelujah)- his first synth/ piano album- a classic as it shows a transition from intimate guitar music into 'pop' music
Ten New Songs- of his 'newer' albums, the best in my opinion- by this point he had reinvented himself and cashed in on the "smooth old ladie's man" act- though it had gotten fairly transparent by this point (and by the follow up album, Dear Heather, it got embarrassingly self promoting with songs like Because of), this album works beautifully- due to his collaboration with Sharon Robinson, this album sounds a little like Cohen meets Sade-
enjoy the new world you've entered here my friend- i strongly recommend a trip to the leonardcohenfiles.com if you want to bone up on all things cohen- i don't know how old you are but don't lament too long on how much time has passed without having this poet in your life- now that you've discovered him, treat yourself to the books and cds i've mentioned and enjoy- the first person to ever recommend him to me handed me The Best Of and said "Buy this, it will change your life." Oddly enough, he was right. Take care!