This article was last updated on May 27, 2022
By Stephen Pate – What does a reviewer say about a poet/songwriter who just released perhaps one of his best albums two days after his 80th birthday?
I won’t say much, being more circumspect than in the past. “I have to die a lot, there’s torture and there’s killing, there’s all my bad reviews,” says in “Almost Like The Blues”
I’ve been listening to Popular Problems for a week. Cohen puts me in a good mood so I like it. I won’t try to explain the songs to you since that is your personal journey and pleasure.
I admit to being a later day fan of Leonard Cohen. As a folkie living in Montreal in the 1960s it was hard not to know and appreciate Leonard Cohen. There is always Suzanne, the eternal song about bohemia in Montreal.
I can also remember a road trip where the driver played depressed Leonard Cohen CDs in sotto voice until I nearly went mad. A few years ago my wife surprised me with tickets to a Cohen concert and I loved the joy and peace he brought the audience.
She bought me a Leonard Cohen songbook to learn the songs and I took her to another concert in Halifax to sit in the third row from the stage. I was blown away by his love for the audience, humility and the great music. The rest is marital bliss.
“Problem Problems” is neither a classic like Suzanne or First We Take Manhattan but the album is highly listenable and I like it. His voice has evolved to a better Bob Dylan voice than Dylan’s aging croak.
The songs are witty, wry and thoughtful musings on the normal Leonard Cohen topics – carnal pleasures, love, God, aging and death.
The arrangements are modern, spare and have the wonderful penchant for a female backup chorus.
Official Leonard Cohen site. Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN Network, OyeTimes and IMA News Buzz. You might also like Leonard Cohen’s albums: worst to best, an entirely subjective review of Leonard Cohen’s albums.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network