Globe and Mail review

Leonard Cohen's recent albums - share your views with others!
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jarkko
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Globe and Mail review

Postby jarkko » Fri Oct 29, 2004 4:43 pm

This link comes from Gurinder Brar:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ ... nard+cohen

Traces of a ladies' man

By Robert Everett-Green
Friday, October 29, 2004 - Page R35


Dear Heather
Leonard Cohen
Columbia (Sony/BMG)
Rating: **½

You look and sometimes there's nothing, but if you keep looking, that nothing may turn out to be something after all. Leonard Cohen's musings on emptiness and creativity, in his spoken-word number Morning Glory, apply also to this album, in which rags appear in the same parade as robes of gold.

The robes mostly hang on the shoulders of the elders: Irving Layton, A. M. Klein and F. R. Scott, all of them mentors or teachers for Cohen during his poetic apprenticeship in Montreal. Each gets a song, or a text that somehow gathers music around it, Cohen at this point in his life (he turned 70 last month) being disinclined to sing.

When you tally up those tributes, and see that the album is dedicated to the memory of publishing patriarch Jack McClelland, and that the booklet contains a shadow-heavy photo of Cohen sitting by a portrait of the father who died when he was 9, you wonder whether there's a misprint. Shouldn't this disc be called Dear Fathers?

Maybe, but that would seem like praying, and prayer in Cohen's work is more tellingly linked with the tragicomic spectacle of the poet pleading at the knees of women. The title song is a prayer of sorts, to a woman whose "legs all white from the winter" have got the ogling old troubadour to think that emptiness may not be the whole story after all. In the same wise, Because of notes with humour and hardly any pride that a few of his songs have induced women to be "exceptionally kind to my old age," as if the age were something separate, like a lapdog prone to incontinence.

There are some lovely things here, though a few have been sitting in drawers for a while. The words for at least five of these 13 tracks are old, or borrowed from others. The tunes are often just implications hanging between the chord changes and the narrow melodies of the poet's speech.

Cohen regroups his Passenger band from 25 years ago for The Faith, a good new song whose topicality is wrapped in the old cloth of a Quebec folk song. There's also a well-clad live version of The Tennessee Waltz from the Various Positions tour of 1985.

But mostly Cohen goes for keyboard instrumentals (by himself, or by backup singers-producers Anjani Thomas and Sharon Robinson) that are often so cheesy as to provoke. Or doesn't he care about that sort of thing any more? Is surface musical appeal part of the nothing that really is nothing? The Field Commander doesn't say; he's still waiting for Heather.
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Postby lizzytysh » Fri Oct 29, 2004 4:52 pm

Is this the fool who's doing what Judith Fitzgerald used to do, well, for the Globe and Mail!?! This was one reviewer who should have kept the 2.5 stars for himself, like the proverbial 'tipper' who leaves a dime for the waitress, whereupon she meets him as he's about to exit the door, returning it with the comment, "Here ~ you obviously need this more than I do." " . . . Hardly any pride" :? :roll: ?

Now, would Leonard be so ungracious as I am in response to this review? Not on your life! Ahhhhh, the freedom of not being Leonard Cohen :wink: .
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Postby username » Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:32 pm

Cohen doesn't really ever get good reviews in canada. Yesterday, the montreal gazette published their short review and gave it 2.5 stars out of 5. Basically complaining about the "cheesy production" that is similar to TNS.
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Postby lizzytysh » Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:40 pm

Ah, so you need someone willing to buck the tide of 'official' opinion ~ where's Judith?
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Postby linmag » Fri Oct 29, 2004 9:55 pm

It's just as well that the CD-buying public in Canada is capable of making up its own mind regarding Leonard's work. I forget how many sales it takes for an album to go gold, but that many people went out and bought Dear Heather in Canada on the first day. And they can't all be wrong :lol:
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Postby lizzytysh » Fri Oct 29, 2004 10:24 pm

Well, at least not in this case, they can't. I won't speak to all the albums that have gone Gold here, due to the buying public. However, considering they're going against the grain in Canada, and forging their own way into the artistic realms that Leonard offers, "they can't all be wrong :lol: "!

This above 'reviewer,' however, got way too literal with Leonard's metaphors [I hope that's the correct choice of literary term] in "Because Of." Age does begin to feel like a separate entity from oneself, anyway. I see the shivering reference as an acknowledgement of his need for them, and his deference to them, his respectful regard of their lifelong role in his life, beginning with his mother and ending with them, whilst admitting his own vulnerability. It's a heart-searing and heart-melting line.

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