I’ve only just got around to listening to “Thanks For The Dance;” a posthumous album by Leonard Cohen. Cohen’s son took poetry recorded before his death and added instrumentation to it to create the album, which works especially well on the opening track “Happens to the Heart.“
Leonard Cohen’s strongest point was his poetic verse and its delivery through his rustic baritone voice. He always managed to conjure the dark sinister corners of the mind and take you there, often delivering one-two punches in his rhyming couplets that left me as the listener in awe. The end of “Happens to the Heart“ is another example, leaving you with something to stew over on the tracks conclusion.
When you have lyrics this good and delivered perfectly in context, the instrumentals surrounding it should always play second fiddle. For me this was often Leonard Cohen’s downfall. I found that often music would get in the way of what was being said. Fortunately “Thanks for the Dance“ reverts to traditional instrumentation and a supportive role.
“Happens to the Heart” features nylon stringed guitar (prominent in early music by Leonard Cohen) strings, woodwinds and piano. It cements the lyrics in a sound that will stand the test of time. Building them into something greater without removing any of their raw power: