Leonard Cohen: Thanks for the Dance – striking postscript to a remarkable life

Review: Cohen’s son Adam has shaped these final recordings into something memorable

Thanks for the Dance
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Artist: Leonard Cohen
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Legacy

“In the prison of the gifted/ I was friendly with the guard/ So I never had to witness/ what happens to the heart.” (Happens to the Heart). The dark humour and rich metaphor of Leonard Cohen’s striking and emotional postscript to a remarkable life reminds us of the void he left when he died from cancer just over three years ago.

Cohen’s musician son Adam, who had worked closely with him during his Indian summer, including his last album 2016’s You Want It Darker, took on the task of shaping into something memorable these nine songs, many first takes, written and recorded as the end neared.

Musicians of note, including Spanish laud player Javier Mas and singer Jennifer Warnes, were recruited to embellish in velvet these raw recordings. They do a good job, but attention rarely strays from Cohen's occasionally faltering voice "settling at last the accounts of the soul". He has much to say. Memory, romance, sex, guilt, extremism, the Holocaust, are all cited.

Ever the artist, Cohen, wonderfully lucid and sharp, confronts the moment: “I’m almost alive, I’m almost at home/ No one to follow, nothing to teach/  except that the goal falls short of the reach.”