That old troubadour is back, with Leonard Cohen releasing his latest album, Popular Problems, this week. I haven’t gotten my copy of the CD yet but I am looking forward to listening to Cohen’s album in full, knowing that I, as a listener, am in the safe hands of a man who has remained at his artistic peak for many decades now. The songs I have heard so far have only intensified this feeling. His voice is certainly deeper, whispering as Cohen has aged, but he is still intensely recognizable in both delivery and tone. His voice has always been a distinctive feature as he is not your typical singer, with his rich lyrics delivered via a sometimes monotone voice. This, however, does not detract from his music and actually highlights the inherent poetry of his lyrics. Female backing singers have also become more of a permanent feature, sometimes helping to echo his own lines or provide the chorus, but always enriching his songs.
As a poet, novelist and song writer Cohen has remained fairly prolific in his musical and literary output, only coming to a slowdown in his 70’s. On learning that the vast majority of the money had he saved had been swindled, he once again took himself on the road to earn some money. We, as the audience, must be thankful for humanity’s greed, as Cohen has since toured fairly extensively and has released two new albums (Popular Problems being the second after 2012’s Old Ideas). It seems as if he has been re-invigorated and is flourishing once again, no doubt surprising his older fans with new ones who are only just discovering his extensive discography.
As I’ve mentioned on this site before The Partisan has to be one of my favourite songs that is covered by Leonard Cohen , exemplifying as it does the close bond of the partisan and the people who help hide them, of the intense love, hope and brutality of a country at war:
“An old woman gave us shelter,
kept us hidden in the garret,
then the soldiers came;
she died without a whisper.
There were three of us this morning,
I’m the only one this evening,
but I must go on;
the frontiers are my prison.
Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we’ll come from the shadows.”