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John Meagher reviews Leonard Cohen's 'Popular Problems'

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Leonard Cohen Releases 'Popular Problems' On September 23, 2014, A Dynamic Studio Album Of New Songs (PRNewsFoto/Columbia Records)

Leonard Cohen Releases 'Popular Problems' On September 23, 2014, A Dynamic Studio Album Of New Songs (PRNewsFoto/Columbia Records)

Columbia Records

Leonard Cohen Releases 'Popular Problems' On September 23, 2014, A Dynamic Studio Album Of New Songs (PRNewsFoto/Columbia Records)

Not content with touring to huge acclaim around the globe, the iconic Canadian has been busy bringing out new material. This is his second album in three years and sees him teaming up once more with songwriter Patrick Leonard.

Eight of these nine songs are Leonard co-writes so although there’s less that’s obviously vintage Cohen, there are still plenty of trademarks – including his mordant wit. [Leonard, incidentally, has been a long-time collaborator of Madonna’s, working with her from the True Blue album onwards.]

As has often been noted in recent years, Cohen’s vocals have become wonderfully gnarled with age and often he favours an approach that’s more spoken word than singing. Like all his albums to date, you feel as though he is sharing intimate confidences with you and that sense is heightened by a delivery that sometimes borders on whispering.

There is a fixation with death – as you might expect from one facing into his ninth decade – but the album does not make for a morbid listen. In fact, Cohen seems more hopeful than he has in many years. Time may be against him, but this is the sound of a man making the most out of each day he’s on earth.

The lack of songs to stand alongside Cohen’s greatest moments is hard to ignore, however, and while the album – and that voice – makes for an engaging listen, it’s not an essential album from the man they used to dub ‘Laughing Len’.

Suggested tracks: ‘Slow’; ‘Samson in New Orleans’

Online Editors


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