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Leonard Cohen - Thanks For The Dance (Album Review)

Monday, 02 December 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

The slow, melancholic waltz of Leonard Cohen's posthumous album 'Thanks For The Dance' enraptures with stunning intensity. Compiled by his son, Adam, from material spanning the last months of the master singer-songwriter's life, the collection captures his voice with a fragile but profound resonance.

Helping the listener to reflect on Cohen’s illustrious and prolific career, a calm sort of acceptance marches throughout the meandering melodies. Having previously produced his elegiac swansong 'You Want It Darker', Adam Cohen's ability to preserve the essence of Leonard’s originality, while fleshing out unfinished instrumentals, delivers a cold sense of conviction, inspired by both hope and fear.

Crucially, Leonard's authorial voice is present throughout the nine-track album. The Hills is an incredible moment as he reminisces about his past aspirations, levelling them against reality.

The subtle majesty of his words arrive with a paradoxical edge, countered by the humble opening sentiments of Happens To The Heart. 

“I was always working steady but I never called it art,” he intones over an acoustic guitar. “I got my shit together meeting Christ and reading Marx.” This immense piece of art feels like an epiphany, and Leonard’s ultimate sign off. It’s an instant classic. Leonard is expressing his last words, in his most meditative state. This tremendously sad track bids farewell to a genius.

Although a sombre tone characterises 'Thanks For The Dance', Leonard's soft sense of humour and commitment to realism remain entirely intact. In death as in life, the unquantifiable brilliance of his restorative atmospheres and moods prevail. As a forlorn so long to a beautiful musician, this is exquisite.

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