Album Review: Leonard Cohen, 'Old Ideas'

75 Billboard Rating

LEONARD COHEN
"Old Ideas"
Producers: various
Columbia Records
Release Date: Jan. 31

"Old Ideas" is Leonard Cohen's first album of new material since declaring bankruptcy in 2005 due to his ex-manager's alleged embezzlement, which led to his most active touring itinerary in ages to get back in the black. The septuagenarian songsmith's return to the world stage made him an even more widely beloved figure than before. This set seems to reciprocate that warmth by eschewing the arch experimentation of its predecessor -- 2004's "Dear Heather" -- for a more accessible approach. The sparse production recalls Cohen's 1988 release, "I'm Your Man," by throwing the Canadian balladeer's ever-deepening voice and his mix of poetic flair and pitch-black humor into satisfyingly stark relief. New tracks "Going Home" and "Show Me the Place" are respectively more caustic and chastened takes on the man-addresses-maker theme of Cohen's classic "Hallelujah," while the low-key blues and jazz shadings of "The Darkness" and "Anyhow" frame more carnal connections, underscoring the notorious ladies man's continued powers of persuasion even as he inches ever closer toward 80.

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