‘Thanks for the Dance’
Released: Nov. 22
Label: Columbia/Legacy Recordings
Leonard Cohen’s last album, released just weeks before he passed in 2016, was “You Want It Darker,” which had a sense of finality that made it a fine conclusion to his brilliant musical career.
“Thanks for the Dance,” on the other hand, seems to bring down the curtain on Cohen’s parallel universe, the poetry he started to publish long before he began making records.
Illustrating the point, the new nine-track set is more like a Cohen spoken-word performance with very good and empathetic musical backing, most of it composed by his son, Adam.
“Happens to the Heart” opens the album with haunting guitar, laud and piano supporting Cohen’s listing of a life’s worth of experiences, the gentle accompaniment from Andre de Ridder’s stargaze orchestra making the lines even more effective — “I was always working steady/But I never called it art.”
The title track could be a sequel to “Take This Waltz,” a 1980s song with lyrics Cohen adopted from a poem by Federico García Lorca.
Other highlights include the subtle flamenco airs of “The Night of Santiago,” the dark-as-night and terrifying “Puppets” and closer “Listen to the Hummingbird,” a short but wise and emotional epilogue.
Key cuts: “Happens to the Heart,” “Thanks to the Dance.”