Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas (Columbia) ****1/2
The long-awaited album is finally here. During his return to a live performance Cohen often mentioned a new song here and there. But he finally got to the studio and cut his first album in 8 years. At first it sounds like usual Cohen, but after few more listens something is starting to happen here.
"Old Ideas" is like a big puzzle, and with repeated investigation of the sounds and lyrics, all of the pieces form a beautiful sculpture. One word continuously comes to mind here, it's grace. The music and the lyrics are very carefully crafted, and as always Cohen is quite the word master when it comes to getting his message across. Lyrically, the album doesn't answer anything, but it sure does ask a lot of good questions.
Cohen is very well aware of his age, and where he is at now mentally. He's reached a certain stage of awareness, and as always is a great reporter from that very location. The album flows with sincerity, honesty, and an occasional joke. Cohen has no problem getting a quick laugh at himself.
The music is soft, and well adjusted to the vocals, and the emotional level of the songs. There are some very good tracks that will become Cohen classics. Tracks such as "Amen," "Darkness," electrify with their inner power, and deep lyrical thoughts. And then "Lullaby," and "Different Sides" are examples of how to effectively combine rhythm with great lyrics.
Cohen is joined by an impressive cast of characters on this record. Many of them already accompanied the singer on his recent tour. The album has a definite cohesive feel. As much as you want to highlight a track, it's a big part of the whole. Simply can't wait to hear these songs live if chance permits.