You Want It Darker, the final album from late, great poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, was as good a finale as you could have wanted for his distinguished career. The album concluded his discography with profound musings on the end of life set to haunting music ideally suited for his gravelly baritone grumble. As with David Bowie’s Blackstar, when Cohen died shortly after its release, You Want It Darker began to feel like a living epitaph Cohen had written for himself. So on one hand, the thought of a posthumous Leonard Cohen album feels wrong, as if such an epilogue would mar that perfect ending.
On the other hand, more Leonard Cohen songs will always be a welcome treasure. And as teased last year, a new Cohen album is on the way. Thanks For The Dance is out on Black Friday, comprising nine unreleased songs. According to a press release, these are nine sketches left over from the You Want It Darker sessions, fleshed out into finished products by Cohen’s son Adam at Cohen’s request. It sounds like it will be tender, loving goodbye from Cohen’s friends, family, and admirers.
Javier Mas, the Spanish guitarist who played with Cohen the last eight years of his life, flew to Los Angeles to record parts for the album. Also in LA, Beck played guitar and Jew’s harp on the album, and Jennifer Warnes did background vocals. These songs also include contributions from a wide array of collaborators at last year’s PEOPLE festival in Berlin, including Leslie Feist, Damien Rice, Bryce Dessner, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Perry, s t a r g a z e, Dustin O’Halloran, and the Cantus Domus choir. Daniel Lanois, Patrick Watson, and the Shaar Hashomayim choir all participated in Montreal, where Adam Cohen had set up shop in his garage down the street from his father’s old house.
The first fruits of this labor of love is “The Goal,” which drops us right back into that You Want It Darker milieu, if only for 73 seconds. Like many of Cohen’s songs, it feels more like a poem set to music, getting in and out quickly but leaving a huge impression. “I can’t leave my house or answer the phone,” he begins. “I’m going down again, but I’m not alone.” Near the end, he just about floored me with the line, “I move with the leaves, I shine with the chrome/ I’m almost alive, I’m almost at home.”
Watch the song’s official video below.
01 “Happens To The Heart”
02 “Moving On”
03 “The Night Of Santiago”
04 “Thanks For The Dance”
05 “It’s Torn”
06 “The Goal”
08 “The Hills”
09 “Listen To The Hummingbird”
Thanks For The Dance is out 11/22 on Columbia/Legacy. Pre-order it here.