You Might Be Gone, Leonard, But Thanks For This Final Dance

Posthumous music is a tricky feat. The devastation caused by the loss of an artist can be so great that it’s understandable we crave their unheard melodies and musings. However, when placed in the wrong hands, releases made after a musician’s death can end up doing more bad than good, and often just feel like one last money-grabbing hurrah.

” devastatingly poignant in the
very best of ways “

That being said, to not release the final introspections of songwriting titan Leonard Cohen would honestly be nothing short of criminal, thus we were gifted the sensational Thanks For The Dance. His son Adam Cohen took on a mighty task and a heavy weight on his shoulders in finishing the works of his late father. But he has not disappointed. Perhaps Cohen had an easier task of it than most, due to the sketches already being in place, the framework a desire for the album that time forbid. However, the work that he and contributors such as Daniel Lanois, Jennifer Warnes, Spanish guitarist Javier Mas and Dustin O’Halloran have produced is devastatingly poignant in the very best of ways.

Never one to shy away from the big questions, Cohen’s final sketches cover faith, fascism, the spiritual, the sensual and the body. The album could perhaps be referred to as one of spoken word, as the ever poetic, deadpan, and somewhat unnerving vocals of Cohen’s take centre-stage at all times. The orchestration, whilst subtle and sporadic, fleshes out what is needed, whilst never detracting from the focal point of the record. A personal favourite is ‘The Hills’ which, as the penultimate track of the album, brings both the lyrics and the musical arrangement to one big celestial head. ‘This Hills’ is also the only track for which Leonard Cohen wrote the music.

Listening straight through these works is an ethereal, sublime experience that is essential for anyone wanting insight into the final ponderings of an artist who inspired so many, and changed so much. So Leonard, if you’re up there, this dance is on you.

Charlotte Bresh