Where has Leonard Cohen been for the past nine years? The legendary songwriter's mostly been in a Zen monastery, it turns out, obsessively rewriting and polishing the oblique, lapidary lyrics for this austere collection. T... more »en New Songs is arguably Sharon Robinson's record as much as Cohen's--she cowrote all the songs, plays most of the instruments (primarily a synth that seems to have freshly emerged from a chintzy 1984 power ballad), and accompanies Cohen's gloomy croak with her own crooning. This is the most subdued album Cohen's ever made, which is saying something. It's as if he no longer has time for anything in music or performance that could alter the meaning and force of his words. --Douglas Wolk« less
Where has Leonard Cohen been for the past nine years? The legendary songwriter's mostly been in a Zen monastery, it turns out, obsessively rewriting and polishing the oblique, lapidary lyrics for this austere collection. Ten New Songs is arguably Sharon Robinson's record as much as Cohen's--she cowrote all the songs, plays most of the instruments (primarily a synth that seems to have freshly emerged from a chintzy 1984 power ballad), and accompanies Cohen's gloomy croak with her own crooning. This is the most subdued album Cohen's ever made, which is saying something. It's as if he no longer has time for anything in music or performance that could alter the meaning and force of his words. --Douglas Wolk
Cohen enters a new world of simplicity and poetry.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a Leonard Cohen fan for some time now, and allow me to say - this collection of songs may be some of his best. From the title you notice a new plain simplicity. It's no secret that Cohen has been living in "isolation" for the past several years and you get a sense of his new enlightenment. Gone are the many references to God. Enter an almost subdued album full of pain, anxiety, and Love (of course). Gone are those few back-up singers that could test the ear. Enter one voice that blends well with Mr.Cohen's. One thing that seems to be most constant in Cohen's albums is the infamous drum machine. Well, it's here again. Most of these songs are "slow" and it turns out to be great back-round, rainy day, and late night music. Some stand out tracks would be:The first - "In my Secret Life". Classic Cohen here. Let's be honest folks, we don't buy his albums for the music - we buy it for the lyrics. He attempts to paint vivid pictures, and we succumb.My personal favourite "By the River Dark" is an amazing trancing hypnotizing dark song. One of his best in a very long time. You'll want to keep listening to it over and over again.Well thanks, for reading this. 5 stars for lyrics, 5 stars for Cohen's deep broken voice. Cheers."
FROM THE LATEST HIT TO THE WISDOM OF THE OLD
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In terms of production and instrumentation, Leonard Cohen retired to Florida 20 years ago. I'M YOUR MAN was a truely great album despite suffering from synth abuse. THE FUTURE had the same malady, but once again the outstanding quality of the songs saved the proceedings. 10 NEW SONGS breaks no new ground in terms of cheesy prodution and yet once again, the lyrics play hero to yet another damsel in distress.
Sure, he whispers and croaks in septagenarian mockery of Barry White. But lyrically Cohen's sharp as ever, and that's how one should approach this album. It's basically a slim volume of new poems with obligatory musical accompaniment. Armed with lines like "I fought against the bottle but I had to do it drunk" he still hits the weary mark of the heart. Sentiments like " Love went on and on /until It reached an open door" don't hurt either.
Suffice it to say I'm a fan. Though I generally find solace in the dark acoustic majesty of SONGS OF LOVE & HATE, Time goes to show that you can't keep that kind of intensity up forever. The presence of Sharon Robinson is also a welcome replacement to the chorus of tipsy Baccanals Cohen has utilized in recent years. Her souful croon goes to show less is truely more. When she sings, "You kiss my lips and then it's done" a title like BOOGIE STREET takes on a much more ominous meaning---and the old CHELSEA HOTEL Cohen shines on through.
Stand out tracks for me are IN MY SECRET LIFE, THAT DON'T MAKE IT JUNK & BOOGIE STREET. Though there's no surpises, I can't say I'm disappointed. 10 NEW SONGS is just another remarkable page in the forgiving, loving voice Cohen found in THE FUTURE."
Bare-boned spirituals from the zen master of minimalism ...
Paul Hickey | Fairfax, VA USA | 10/15/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stripped down to its essentials, this album of "Ten New Songs" shows Leonard Cohen at his most austere and brilliant, with work that shines brightly as poems set to simple melodies, but which do not always succeed as music.Overall, however, there is little not to like here. Although I loved the background vocals of Perla Batella on Cohen's earlier records, Sharon Robinson does a great job of crooning harmonies with the monotoned artist, and her production of these tunes is nothing short of magnificent. The whole thing has a rich, full, disciplined yet leisurely sound that manages to seem precise and somehow loose at the same time.
Some have criticized the instrumentation and singing on this album, but such carping really is unjustified. After all, no one listens to Bob Dylan or Townes Van Zandt for the quality of their croaking out lyrics or the tunes they play. It is the words that matter, and on "Ten New Songs" Cohen proves that he is easily in their league as a writer. And it is oddly appropriate that these tracks are very different from the almost weird optimism of "Closing Time" and "Democracy" on "The Future" when it was released in 1992. Nine years later and into the 21st century, Cohen appears to be in a more reflective mood. The change is indeed welcome. Especially under the current circumstances, with the nation now at war and in a recession, a bit of thoughtful perspective is not only instructive but a relief as well. As the man says, "May the lights in the land of plenty shine on the truth someday."For what it's worth, I believe that the best tracks on this record are "Alexandra Leaving," "In My Secret Life," "That Don't Make It Junk," "You Have Loved Enough," and of course the tune quoted above. "Love Itself" is good, too. On the other hand, "A Thousand Kisses Deep" came across as a retread of "Waiting For A Miracle To Come," and "Boogie Street" and "By The Rivers Dark" strained for originality as they tried to capture the alternately buoyant and depressed beat in their creator's apparent heart of darkness.Those are minor complaints, however. In general, these "Ten New Songs" were worth waiting almost a decade for, and 20 or 30 years from now, when no one can remember Britney Spears or J-Lo, this is the music that people will play as an archive of how they could find contentment and peace even in an autumn of fear. For that reason alone, you should give the new Leonard Cohen album a spin. As long as you do not expect a toe-tapping series of catchy pop tunes, there should be something here that you will enjoy. Yes, maybe it is a little too serious in places, but it also combines a cynical dry, world-weary sense of humor with a soothing tenderness that is all too rare in this strange day and age. Relax, and grok the fullness. ..."
It was worth the wait
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After 9 years, some of it spent in a Zen monastery, he's back !
Back with an incredibly beautiful CD...smooth, slow and mellow. These songs are so quiet and understated, it's just short of listening to silence. The arrangements are simple, and done by Sharon Robinson, who also produced, programmed, and performed the music, co-wrote the songs, and who's very lovely voice is a complement to Cohen's, but kept mostly in the background, making for a perfect balance.These are poetic and thoughtful songs to contemplate the mysteries of life by, or maybe just to sit and watch the grass grow by, which may be the same thing...it will definitely take its place up there with "I'm Your Man" as a favorite CD.
Welcome back Mr. Cohen, we missed you."
The world is always a better place w/ a new leonard cohen cd
Gary Delsohn | Corona del Mar CA | 10/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was hooked on his music the first time I heard "Suzanne" on FM radio lo those many years ago and his new offering is on a par with anything he has ever done. There are songwriters and there is Leonard Cohen. I will always remmeber when I used to put his music on for my friends while we were growing up in the early 70s. They would want to jump out the window. "He's so depressing," they'd say. Nonsense. His music is gorgeous and rich. He writes the most beautiful and spiritutally honest songs of anyone alive. "In My Secret Life" is an instant masterpiece. There is much to commend this cd, which I just received about three days ago and have listened to nothing else since. Perhaps one is not always in the mood for Leonard Cohen, but listening to his unique music and poetry is one of life's great joys. The world is always a better place when there is a new Leonard Cohen disc to listen to day and night until the mood lifts and it's ok to settle for ordinary stuff again."