The Age, Australia
19 October 2001

Ten New Songs: Leonard Cohen

by Michael Dwyer

Contributed by Paul Koerbin

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***** highest rating

Laughing Len's first album since 1992 is a spare, gospel-infused affair that resonates with all the profundity you'd expect of a great poet who's spent most of his seventh decade in a Zen retreat. "Here It Is" contains his philosophical gist: "Let everyone live, let everyone die / Hello my love and my love goodbye." It ain't much, but rendered in Cohen's aged croak with shimmering harmonic backing from key collaborator Sharon Robinson, it's enlightenment on a stick. The momentous "Love Itself" draws similar gravity from simple wisdom, this time with Cohen's much-overlooked humor in spades. Themes of compassion, self-knowledge and the pursuit of higher truth reign, from the ominous "By The River Dark" to the timely prayer for justice, "The Land of Plenty." "I would die for the truth," he sighs, "In My Secret Life." In a medium fuelled by artifice and ego, this may be as close as we get.

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