.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/865ad58a2507eec152507a797b058d7257b38982.jpg Dear Heather

Leonard Cohen

Dear Heather

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
November 11, 2004

Thirteen new (and old) songs from Canada's hippest seventy-year-old. It's folly to complain that Leonard Cohen has lost his voice, since he never really had one to begin with. From the thin Canadian-folkie drawl of 1967's Songs of Leonard Cohen to the grave, gravelly tone that settled in circa 1988's I'm Your Man, Cohen is such a sourpuss that it's easy to miss his jokes. Take "Because Of," from the new Dear Heather, in which he seems to enact the title of his 1977 album, Death of a Ladies' Man: "Because of a few songs/Wherein I spoke of their mystery/Women have been exceptionally kind to my old age," he croaks as only someone who lived with Rebecca De Mornay in his fifties before heading off to a monastery in his sixties can. "They say, 'Look at me, Leonard/Look at me one last time.' "

What makes Dear Heather tick are the ladies who look back: longtime co-composer/producer Sharon Robinson and producer-engineer Leanne Ungar, as well as occasional co-lead vocalist Anjani Thomas, who open up the arrangements from the often repetitive Casio-lounge feel of 2001's Ten New Songs. Sometimes their work evokes wood paneling and tip jars ("Go No More A-Roving," with words by another famous poet, Lord Byron); sometimes it's stark (the spoken-with-piano "Villanelle for Our Time"); sometimes subdued and trip-hoppy ("The Letters"). But given how monochromatic Cohen tends to be, the jumbled feel works in Dear Heather's favor.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Nightshift”

    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com