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Japanese pressing of the acclaimed singer/songwriter's 2004 album, includes the exclusive live version of 'Tennessee Waltz'. Sony.
Leonard Cohen must be the envy of countless singer-songwriters. Who else has been cozily buffered from the ravages of pop music than this eminent but never particularly prominent Canadian wordsmith? Nearing four decades as a recording artist, Cohen has never left his original label, despite failing to ever register anything resembling a commercial hit. Long ago shed of the "new Dylan" trappings that greeted his first recordings, Cohen now cushions his carefully wrought lyrics in smooth keyboard-and-vocal-heavy arrangements that owe far more to MOR pop and cabaret then folk-rock. His words and delivery have become more nuanced and playful as he's grayed. Listen to the sexy self-deprecation of "Because of" ("Because of a few songs/ Wherein I spoke of their mystery/ Women have been/ Exceptionally kind in my old age") or the weary resolve of his 9-11 statement, "On That Day" ("Did you go crazy or did you report/ On that dayˇthey wounded New York?"). Dear Heather, likes its creator, is at once new and old, familiar and fresh. --Steven Stolder
- Dear Heather
Dear Heather being Cohens 2004 recording is a splendid record. Cohen was 70 at the time and his vocal skills have certainly not suffered. He sings with the same strength and vigor as he did in days of yore. The lyrics are as good as ever. The book-let is a really strange one. There are numerous drawings that make no sense whatsoever but I guess I am not that smart that I can figure out what they mean. Sharon Robinson and Cohen have once again collaborated on some of the songs, The Letters, There for you and Go No More A-roving. Cohen is definitely not on a decline as many other reviewers have written. Cohen is as good as he ever was!
- Ah- the old days...
From a tragic LC fan- just saw LC live in London and he was awesome- brought the wisdom and power of age to the old and even older lyrics! But this album lacks any sort of spark at all and is inconsistent in style. He CAN still sing as he showed in London- but doesn't even try in this album.
But then to expect continued creativity at 70+ is maybe too much!
Reading poetry in an album just pisses me off. And actually, that was the one moment when he didn't get rapturous applause at the gig- when he recited poetry for a few minutes.
Still I'll get it out now and then probably...it's not awful, not kinda average. His worst I think....more info
- Intriguing, But Certainly Not Classic
Leonard Cohen's dense, sometimes morbid work can be an acquired taste, whether you're reading his two novels, perusing his several books of poetry, or listening to his albums of mournful, hyper-literate songs. Until now, however, any excursion into Cohen's shadowy world has always been worth the ride. Cohen is too meticulous a craftsman ever to release a truly mediocre album, but "Dear Heather" suffers from a distinct absence of heft. Although they are undeniably well-made, the songs and poems presented here seem to lack importance; none force you, as listener, to live more vividly in the world; none enrich your experience, in the way that early songs such as "Suzanne" and "Famous Blue Raincoat" did. Which is not to say that this album is bad, by any means. But I have been a Cohen fan for nearly thirty years, and this is the only Leonard Cohen record that I have ever found to be--quite frankly--somewhat forgetable. Neophytes would do better to begin with The Songs of Leonard Cohen, or with his bizzare-but-magnificent second novel, Beautiful Losers....more info
- The Slow Demise of the Ladies' Man
It took me quite a few listens to warm up to this CD. Cohen's voice, which has never been strong, seems to have faded to raspy whisper. The backup singers take on a much larger role than any other CD and seem to be required to carry the melody on some songs, while others are spoken word poems. The CD is filled the typical Cohen somberness, but this time delivered with a lack energy. The addition of the live version of "The Tennessee Waltz" with its steel guitars seems out of place compared to the subdued tone of the rest of the album. Highlights of the CD include "Go No More A-Roving," "Because Of," "The Letters," and "Villanelle For Our Time." All-in-all, a mildly disappointing effort from this cultural icon.
Those new to Cohen are better off starting with one of his first four albums-- the "Songs" trilogy and "New Skin for the Old Ceremony."...more info
- magnificient !
Despite the few bad reviews I've read, I decided to buy the CD and decide by myself. And I don't regret it. The songs may not be easy to listen, but like any good book or great piece of art are hard to read and understand, if you are willing to get delighted by real music, you'll get it . There's lots of talent on this CD. It made my imagination and philosophies fly, made me cheerful, made me sad. My favorite songs: it;s hard to decide between so many. It brightenly opens with " No more a-roving" which, regardless of not containing Leonard's lyrics, he makes of this poem such a song !!! I love to listen to it while in my deck on a clear full moon night. "Nightingale" lifts up my mood so much and makes me feel so much at home (specially because I live in the mountains/woods) and am a nature/wildlife lover. "The Faith", just soothes my soul and relaxes me so much that takes me floating to the highest cloud, while listening to it watching the sun set on a cold afternoon....But right away I get up and start dancing to the tunes of "Tennessee Waltz, which IS NOT OUT OF TUNE like some reviewer mentioned. Here, Leonard is singing as imitating a "country/folk " singer due to the roots of the song. I love that song too !
In summary: I have to clean my CD, because i had played it over and over, and over and over...and I think it's dirty now...Like they said: "In the repetition you'll find the taste"
Leonard's voice and Anjani's vocals make an amazing contrast. I give this CD a "FIVE" . Some may say because it fits my personality. I love contrast . I like being sad and then happy right after. I like to sooth my soul. I like Leonard Cohen....more info
- It breaks my heart, too
...because, to my ears, it sounds so much like a final statement that I can't shake the feeling that this really is the end, as far as new songs from Cohen go. As such, these songs are appropriately unexpected, comfortingly strange and idiosyncratic - the random, gently colliding thoughts and musings of a career unwinding. (A career that suddenly seems even more toweringly formidable in retrospect...)
I'd agree with some of the inevitable criticisms that will be levelled against the dominance of the female back-up vocals in the mix (I thought UNDERTOW, in particular, could've used a lot more of Cohen), but even that seems oddly appropriate, like Cohen is really just stretching out now, getting ready for a little rest (no morose or morbid connotations intended). Musically, lyrically, this is far from his strongest work, but the whole effect is more urgently personal (and optimistic) than anything I can remember from him. It would have put me in a pretty deep funk if it wasn't so beautiful and hopeful....more info
- It breaks my heart
to have to write this about Leonard Cohen, but this CD is terrible. You can vote this not helpful as many times as you like, but I wish he'd just put out a book of poetry and leave it at that. ...more info
- From the sublime to the heavenly.
I do not wish to comment on or intellectualise about Leonard's lyrics. Myriad attempts are constantly made to deconstruct Leonard's work and my penny's worth would be both futile and pointless. I can only say that to me it does not matter what Leonard writes, how arcane, cryptic or esoteric, he communicates to me in some magical way. I may be unable to consciously decipher what it is of which Leonard speaks, but the words evoke a deep emotional response in me. What is this magic that he wroughts?
On to simpler matters, it is nice to hear real instruments edge in again on a Cohen album. And while this is not intended as a reflection on Sharon Robinson or her considerable talent and ability, to my ear Anjani Thomas is a much finer partner to Leonard. Her voice is sweeter, her piano flourishes and her arrangements more ethereal and attractive. Leonard meanwhile fades further into the background, his voice reaching ever more sepulchral depths. Perhaps on the next album he will be audible only to elephants?
Time will tell if the songs are strong enough to cement themselves into our psyches like the ubiquitous entries from the classic Cohen oeuvre. But I personally have been unable to remove Undertow from my head for days now. Anjani's pure and moving lead vocal backed by Leonard's quiet rumble is achingly beautiful.
Dear Heather has faults, for certain. But listening to it I feel that aforementioned Cohen magic wash over me. There is something in Leonard's ragged croak - gentleness, wisdom, I really don't know - that grips me and makes me listen in awe. He speaks to us from a different, more heavenly place. There is the gentle pace, the delicate and original arrangements, the angelic voices of Sharon and (especially) Anjani, the timelessness and serenity of the sound. Perfect in its imperfection, a rare treat in today's programmed world of packaged pop tarts and angry tuneless rappers, I cannot rate Dear Heather less than 5 stars.
- You couldn't expect better
You have to admire Leonard Cohen as a man and as a lyricist above all. Having started in the music business at the tender age of 34, it is rather "normal" to find him still willing to enligthen his public at 70 and releasing an album after "only" 3 years should make everybody happy. The truth, as it usually happens in the superior lyrics of the man who is undisputedly the only "rock" artist whose lyrics can be read as poetry, is a bit harder. The album is, compared to the previous one, the beautiful Ten New Songs, moderately disappointing. Some of the songs might pass as out-takes from TNS, some are duets with singer Anjani Thomas of varied taste and in some of the songs Cohen doesn't really sings, he speaks the words inside our ears. What you get is an album more varied than the predecessor but less focused and, let's not beat about the bush, with lesser songs, although there are exceptions. The music is often reduced to the bone, but at the same time there is an undeniable research to find the right sound or atmosphere, which shows that the album has been cared for. The lyrics may not be his best but of course they are always above average and on On That Day he demonstrates how few words can communicate a sentiment better than the most articulate pronunciation. In the end, you couldn't really expect better, but you must be only happy that he is still alive and kicking and this new record of his will sit nicely close to any other work of genius he has produced in 36 years. If you're new to Cohen, don't start with this one, start with one of the first three albums or, if you prefer a beefier sound, with I'm your man or The Future. Then buy all the rest....more info
- Cohen Transcends the Moment with "Dear Heather"
Perhaps unique in modern musical storytelling, Leonard Cohen carries none of the face-twisting angst, outrage, or urgency infused in today's most lauded releases. While America turns to politically engaged artists to define our era, Cohen transcends this calling with "Dear Heather," a work steeped in the everlasting rather than in any transient moment. Cohen's ubiquitous comparison, Bob Dylan, unflinchingly tells us where we are; however, Cohen manages to unpretentiously suggest where we ought to be. Even when speaking to the scars of recent years in the patient song, "On That Day" Cohens speaks in an ageless voice. "Some people say / It's what we deserve / For sins against g-d / For crimes in the world / I wouldn't know / I'm just holding the fort / Since that day / They wounded New York." Each twang of Cohen's jew's harp speaks simultaneously to the frailty of human life and the great simplicity of the sublime. He presents 9/11 as an event of spiritual consequence, a tragedy uncurable by the political realm.
From the opening track, Cohen cues the listener that his interests are anything but populist, resurrecting Lord Byron's "Go No More A-Roving" in ways both sexual and uber-modern. Ever the poetic refractor, the Canadian bard also lends his septenarian thrum to Frank Scott's "Villanelle For Our Time." Like a grandfather giving up the truth which he cannot take with him, Cohen recites Scott's words, both prophetic and prescriptive: "This is the faith from which we start: / Men shall know commonwealth again / From bitter seaching of the heart."
Old fans looking for the hijacked sound of "Death of a Ladies Man" or the ominous and imposing gloom of "First We Take Manhattan" should brace themselves for dissapointment. Cohen moves slower, sitting drenched in every moment of Anjani Thomas and Sharon Robinson's background vocals as though each note held the promise of a longer tomorrow. "Rush" and "hurry" have left Cohen's musical lexicon.
"Dear Heather" is the medicine which men cannot be given, but instead must look for. It lacks hooks, riffs, choruses that stay lodged in the head. Instead, it gives God, in as many forms as the world has faiths. Or perhaps God gives it, in the gift of music. Thankfully, Cohen willingly submits as the conduit.
- Lenny's Biggest Fan
I am Leonard Cohen's biggest fan. My friends joke about it all the time. With that said, this album is a train wreck. This is coming from someone who will forgive just about any mistakes LC could make. His "Death of a Ladies Man" album used to be the bottom of the barrel but it wasn't his fault. Crazy Spector held a gun to his head, locked him in a room and used the scratch vocals for the album. But the songs themselves were great. I don't think that was the case this time. Besides, I hate to say this, but the songs here are...weak. Maybe it was some kind of buddhist "in the moment" thing or, more likely, he is just trying to finish up a contract and gave them his lesser songs(notice Nick Cave's "Nocturama" before he moved to Mute and the quality of his double album afterwards).
It was very disappointing especially after "Ten New Songs" which was a remarkable album and one of his all-time best. From best to worst just reminds us that Lenny IS human, eventhough in my mind, he had a Godly aura about him at times.
I'm very curious to here his next one which is scheduled for 2006. And he's supposed to tour, too!...more info
- Brillant Lyrical Album
This is a very different album from Cohen's other work. The production is very dark and moody at times. Cohen's lyrics are still great even at 70. The song On That Day is a beautiful song about September 11. Sharon Robinson returns to produce this record and also lends her vocals throughout it. Also includes a live version of Tennessee Waltz. Favorites include Go No More A-Roving, Because Of, The Letters, Morning Glory, On That Day, Villanelle For Our Time, Dear Heather, Nightingale, The Faith, and Tennessee Waltz (Live). Recommended....more info
- What a let down
I am a huge fan of Leonard Cohen but this album is a serious disappointment. It is hard to pinpoint exactly where this falls short... the sound and style are familiar but it lacks the intensity and passion of other albums. The previous album, Ten New Songs was soooooo good. This is flat, boring and almost formulaic. LC phoned this one in....more info
- It's Leonard, folks, but not as we know him
If there is such a thing as a new-comer to Cohen's talents, they would be well advised to start their collection elsewhere - with 'The Future' or 'I'm Your Man'. Those coming to Cohen through this album are likely to shrug and wonder what the fuss is about.
The important thing to remember about Cohen is that he is a poet foremost; a singer by necessity. Therefore, the main joy is always in the lyrics; the music is rarely anything to write home about. This is more evident as time goes on, and a heavy nicotine habit takes its toll on his voice, but the lyrics on 'Dear Heather' are of the standard we have come to expect.
You might describe this album as dreary and lacking in variety, but it is less monotonous than 'Ten New Songs' and Cohen appears to have grown spiritually since that last album, as evidenced by the awesome 'Morning Glory'.
The pace is funereal, and there is one bona fide turkey ('Dear Heather', the title track, is embarrasingly bad), but as an intimate, chamber piece, it is a minor masterpiece.
Mood music for the deathbed, perhaps!...more info
- passionate men, insouciant women...
Leonard Cohen is a poet always ready to sing, worship the mystery of woman 1st & the cosmic wonder of a deeply examined life 2nd... For sensually dreaming women & PASSIONATELY
defined men seeking balance there are few other artists who can reveal the delicate ineffables that mark the map from loss to finding. Though Dear Heather is not as immediately dramatic as The Future or 10 New Songs the power & wonder of the master's touch are not diminished. Of course, your mindset & setting are the theater that he enters to paint his delicate colors in shimmering brushstrokes. Do not be offended or cognitively dissounant/pouty if you are not in a quiet room,NO multi-tasking! & just don't get it when you listen. You just might not be mature/refined in your life experiences to hear him yet. but you will if you continue. & the mystery can ONLY deepen if you will it......more info
- Intimacy with Background Vocals
I liked a few of these songs immediately - "Because of", "The Letters", and "There for you" in particular - because of their spare, simple, and unabashed intimate sexuality. I was put off by others because of what seemed inappropriate overworked productions, particularly the background vocals.
After listening to this CD many times, however, almost all of these pieces have grown on me and I indulge in them as if they were guilty pleasures. That's the thing, to me, about Leonard Cohen: these songs are for me alone, so intimate, so vulnerable, that I feel a rush of pleasure every time I hear them. The power of this vulnerability cannot be overstated and it is to be wondered at in a man who has reached his seventies. That he would deliberately choose to stay so open and raw all these years (we may wonder about the monastery years - they may have been necessary to protect such fragility) may be why he can write so beautifully and sing - even when he isn't actually singing but is simply talking - with such power and meaning.
- Did I miss something?
or has Leonard taken a path to plain uninteresting songs. I am a fan of his work (I'm your Man, The Future) even 10 new songs had some good tunes, but this one is better left on the shelf....more info
- Meditation alley
You got to know that it's in the voice. So no matter what the
voice takes you away and when you lived as hard as Leonard you
can use some help; and Leonard provides plenty of it.
Leonard keeps on moving on cause he keeps on growing. His new
album doesn't give you the song stories as much as a number
of cuts describing how meditation feels and he captures the
moment when you make it to the here and now perfectly. Believe me
it's wild that he did that. His voice is as good as ever and
the saxophone playing is awesome. Also some interesting poetry
is recited. All and all its a must for any Cohen lover....more info
- THIS ALBUM IS TOTALLY WORTH IT
I was delighted to see that L. Cohen had a new album out. People that dont like this album either don't like Leonard Cohen because they don't get it, or are very boring people who can only enjoy granola music of the slower tempo Dead Can Dance variety. Go No More A Roving, Because of, and Undertow are extremely fine songs that make this album a must. I don't see how anyone with a heart can not fully appreciate Undertow for the beauty that it is. Because of is also a very sexy song. The other songs are quite good as well.
I would also definately recommend TEN NEW SONGS, for those of you who quit buying his albums after the FUTURE. It is every bit as important and sexy as the Future and Im Your Man. This guy knows how to pick his back up singers....more info
- Not his best work. Buy "10 New Songs" instead.
I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan, and have loved every one of his albums. Except this one. ...more info
- Not as bad as Ten New Songs but close
That's about all I can say about it. I've managed to listen through to the end (which I couldn't with TNS despite trying twice) but it left me cold. There are real instruments this time; but it's still essentially a poetry reading to a background accompaniment.
I read with astonishment a reviewer of TNS, who suggested that the new stuff is as good as the old and that the first few albums were not LC's golden age. (S)he is so wrong. Admittedly, as a 17 year old when The Songs Of LC was released, my recollections of the album are inextricably bound up with Saturday evening parties and the mysteries that I discovered there. But anyone, who grew up with the early Cohen albums (up to and including New Skin I would suggest), will remember the impact they had and the feelings they aroused. I defy any teenager to make out to Dear Heather. ...more info
- A short review..
First..I just want to note my 3-star rating is based on the fact that I'm still deciding whether or not I like this cd or not. So, middle of the road seemed the way to go. No matter how many times --and as I write this..another listening session is in progress-- I play "Dear Heather", it eludes me. It's on..and just like that, it's over, and I can't quite remember what it was I listened to. Maybe it's the subdued sound of the entire album..something of a quiet beauty that one can't capture..there while the music and words are coming, and gone just as quick, not powerful enough to stay with you beyond what one reviewer aptly wrote as a cold snowy evening sitting by the fire. And maybe that's enough. It's a fond farewell to a great musician/ poet/ writer..and I suppose when the cd stops, I can leave with a smile on my face that I'm not sure how to explain. But it's a smile all the same.
Thanks (last note..ok..so maybe I like the album better than I let one..which explains the 4 star rating I changed this to after finishing the review. bleh. I'm too lazy to edit.)...more info
- He's too old for this stuff...
Frankly, the guy sounds like a stalker following a Junior High School girl home from school. The CD gives me the creeps and makes me want to make sure the doors are locked.
to be fair, my wife likes it. I think he speaks to women more than men. I just can't listen to it at all.
- what happened?
Cohen needs a good kick up the ass...hes been making tired songs for years. It blows me away that someone older like aznavour writes more powerful songs...theres just no effort or passion in cohen anymore..theres no excuse!...more info
I love Leonard Cohen, but it seems to me that his singing in this record bores even himself. ...more info