Is this it then? The last word? Maybe. Maybe not. Leonard Cohen said a tender farewell to his muse, Marianne, on her deathbed a few months ago, promising her that he was not far behind. And judging by this latest erudite chapter in elegiac reflection, spliced with questioning, self-deprecating humour, he is, as he sings on the album's title track, "I'm ready my lord."
Cohen is now 82, frail and mostly confined to his modest LA home, where, as he told the New Yorker in an insightful interview, he is busy tidying up the loose ends of a complex life. (Although he subsequently clarified his comment that he was "ready to die" - telling the crowd at an event at the Canadian consulate in LA last week that "I said I was ready to die recently. And I think I was exaggerating. I've always been into self-dramatization. I intend to live forever.")
Cohen's voice remains strong, measured and assured. There is, as ever, flashes of playful humour in his wonderful use of language. The dignified music also reflects his concerns, at times hymnal in intensity, but it would be wrong to think these nine tracks morbid or depressing; Cohen’s humanity shines throughout.