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Dear Heather

3.6 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 26, 2004
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Latest release of new music from legendary writer & performer. Leonard has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide. Devoted following from this Canadian Singer songwriter. Leonard Cohen has recorded 9 studio albums, three live albums & two greatest hits collections. He has published 11 books including 2 novels.


Leonard Cohen must be the envy of countless singer-songwriters. Who else has been cozily buffered from the ravages of pop music than this eminent but never particularly prominent Canadian wordsmith? Nearing four decades as a recording artist, Cohen has never left his original label, despite failing to ever register anything resembling a commercial hit. Long ago shed of the "new Dylan" trappings that greeted his first recordings, Cohen now cushions his carefully wrought lyrics in smooth keyboard-and-vocal-heavy arrangements that owe far more to MOR pop and cabaret then folk-rock. His words and delivery have become more nuanced and playful as he's grayed. Listen to the sexy self-deprecation of "Because of" ("Because of a few songs/ Wherein I spoke of their mystery/ Women have been/ Exceptionally kind in my old age") or the weary resolve of his 9-11 statement, "On That Day" ("Did you go crazy or did you report/ On that day…they wounded New York?"). Dear Heather, likes its creator, is at once new and old, familiar and fresh. --Steven Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 26, 2004)
  • Original Release Date: October 26, 2004
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 49 minutes
  • ASIN: B0002MPTDO
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,643 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Juan Mobili on November 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Reviewer: Juan Mobili After 2001's Ten New Songs, Cohen returns with a stunning new album, which clearly show than certain artists in their seventies, thankfully, are far from done with honing in their well-crafted wisdom.

Unlike his last album, Sharon Robinson's production allows Cohen's voice to carry the heft of these poems, whether sung or spoken. Actually, where Ten New Songs was more a collaboration than Leonard's solo album, Dear Heather finds her providing great vocals -specially in the The Letters- and more measured in the use of female back-up singers.

As far as I'm concerned, this is the work of a man who has meditated on mortality and found peace and reasons for gratitude, and yet remains unsentimental although more tender about his life. Here, Cohen's poignant and breathtaking poetry achieves a clarity only matched by its courage.

The first two examples which come to mind are Because Of ("Because of a few songs / Wherein I spoke of their mystery, / Women have been / Exceptionally kind / to my old age."), and The Letters (The wounded forms appear: / The loss, the full extent; / And simple kindness here, / The solitude of strength"), which are gorgeous expressions of a man settling accounts, whether thay may need to be apologies or gratitude.

Ultimately, this album shows more hope than somberness. Although Cohen could be called an elder of the dark and brooding song, he's, beneath it all, struck by beauty and loyal to a richer soul. This is an album about a vibrant life bared for examination, and the lesson is love, love above all else.

As he says in Villanelle For Our Time, a Frank Scott poem he musicalized:

"From bitter searching of the heart,

Quickened with passion and with pain

We rise to play a greater part.

This is the faith from which we start:

Men shall know commonwealth again

From bitter searching of the heart."
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What hogwash the few reviewers have given this album. I own all 11 cds from him and "Dear Heather" is definitely above such lows as 1979's "Recent Songs" or 1977's "Death Of A Ladies Man". Is it as sharp as his first three albums? No. Is it as strong as "I'm Your Man" or "The Future"? No. But it definitely has its place in his canon of work.

Just keep in mind that before all these bands like Radiohead, Keane, Travis, Snow Patrol, etc. There was Leonard Cohen (even before The Cure). Cohen is virtually without peer at 70 years of age. There are some great songs on "Dear Heather" like "Go No More A-Roving", "Because Of", "The Letters", "Morning Glory", "Villanelle For Our Time", "Dear Heather" and "Nightingale". In fact, "The Letters" and "Villanelle" are two of his finest works. "Dear Heather" is a strange, almost Laurie Anderson-like piece of song that shows, even at 70, Cohen is still willing to take musical risks.

"Dear Heather" is an unusual mix of modern engineering with an antiquated musical feel (some of the songs are waltzes) and vintage instrumentation (I believe he uses the mouth harp on two different songs!)

Overall, I was pleased with this album more than 2001's "Ten New Songs". This one has more musical variety. I find it strange that the few Cohen reviews here are very mixed (as if this album was a radical departure or something?!!) Ridiculous. If you are a Cohen fan, you should buy this and add it to your collection.
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Format: Audio CD
I do not wish to comment on or intellectualise about Leonard's lyrics. Myriad attempts are constantly made to deconstruct Leonard's work and my penny's worth would be both futile and pointless. I can only say that to me it does not matter what Leonard writes, how arcane, cryptic or esoteric, he communicates to me in some magical way. I may be unable to consciously decipher what it is of which Leonard speaks, but the words evoke a deep emotional response in me. What is this magic that he wroughts?

On to simpler matters, it is nice to hear real instruments edge in again on a Cohen album. And while this is not intended as a reflection on Sharon Robinson or her considerable talent and ability, to my ear Anjani Thomas is a much finer partner to Leonard. Her voice is sweeter, her piano flourishes and her arrangements more ethereal and attractive. Leonard meanwhile fades further into the background, his voice reaching ever more sepulchral depths. Perhaps on the next album he will be audible only to elephants?

Time will tell if the songs are strong enough to cement themselves into our psyches like the ubiquitous entries from the classic Cohen oeuvre. But I personally have been unable to remove Undertow from my head for days now. Anjani's pure and moving lead vocal backed by Leonard's quiet rumble is achingly beautiful.

Dear Heather has faults, for certain. But listening to it I feel that aforementioned Cohen magic wash over me. There is something in Leonard's ragged croak - gentleness, wisdom, I really don't know - that grips me and makes me listen in awe. He speaks to us from a different, more heavenly place. There is the gentle pace, the delicate and original arrangements, the angelic voices of Sharon and (especially) Anjani, the timelessness and serenity of the sound. Perfect in its imperfection, a rare treat in today's programmed world of packaged pop tarts and angry tuneless rappers, I cannot rate Dear Heather less than 5 stars.
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Format: Audio CD
Leonard Cohen has never sounded so content. The apocalyptic gloom that endeared songs like "The Future" to the producers of "Natural Born Killers" acquiesce here to what seems an airy and celestial farewell. Where Leonard vowed to "take Manhattan" in 1988 he expresses his gentlest sympathies to that "wounded" city now in "On That Day." The juxtaposition speaks volumes: this is as breezy, subdued and liberated as Cohen has ever sounded. The sexy minimalism of "Tower of Song" or "Alexandra Leaving" comes to fruition here on these spare and restrained compositions, from the heroic, spoken-word "Because Of" to the mere recital of Cohen's "Villanelle" and the tracks on which his grovely voice seems to vanish amid the seduction of female vocals so immaculate as to evoke the sirens of Homer's "Odyssey." More than on any previous record -- even "Ten New Songs" -- Cohen's age has never shown more obviously than it does here. His voice, never a thing of beauty, is especially strained throughout as it attempts to muster the threads of what it's got left. Cohen's reliance on backup singers makes sense, but I prefer the immediacy and conviction of Cohen's own vocal performances on tracks like "Everybody Knows," "Dance Me to the End of Love" or "Avalanche." The disinterest in adornment suggested on "Ten New Songs" is given even more prominence here, as Cohen seems more unwilling than ever to obscure the power of his words. This is less an album than it is a collection of scraps and anecdotes from the final pages of an epic life and career. As such, it strikes me as a necessary work for Cohen's more devoted fans. It is hardly his most "inspired" or musically appealing record, but there is a resignation and finality about it that combines each of these new pieces into a single living epitaph.
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