Published Nov 19, 2019Some legends don't get a final encore, one last chance to leave it all on record for the world to hear. For the ones that do, however, it's truly special when a celebration of life, legacy and song turns into something much more. Yes, it's been three short years since Leonard Cohen left us, but Thanks for the Dance is a starkly earnest portrait of a wordsmith crafting his final gem.
Much of the tone on this record is reflective and melancholy, Cohen's raspy, biting delivery backed by some wonderful instrumentation. The use of laúd adds a more soulful flair on "Happens to the Heart" and "The Night of Santiago"; a particularly vivid recalling of a passion-filled night with its handclaps, harmonious vocals and coda of "Though I've forgotten half my life, I still remember this."
For a record mostly produced in a small garage near his father's home in Los Angeles, Adam Cohen deserves credit for gathering and producing with this particular group of collaborators: we're talking Beck on guitar, backing vocals from the likes of Jennifer Warnes and Feist among others, the aforementioned classical guitar handiwork of Javier Mas and many more. Everyone lends a truly ethereal atmosphere to the overall production, a beautiful yang to the yin of You Want It Darker.
The title track is a lovely waltzing tome filled with soothing horns and encapsulates the mentality of this last hurrah. "Listen to the Hummingbird" may appear a straightforward punctuation to the proceedings, but the bigger picture reveals a humble message, reminding us to focus on the many small and wonderful creatures in this great big (and sometimes mad) world rather than his musings. A big picture that encompasses the fleeting effects of one's words in a culture often focused on the short-term.
Thanks for the Dance is a fitting goodbye to a figure who, whether they've been in your life for one day, one year or a lifetime, made a tremendous impact on their craft. A beautiful reprise to a song of love or hate. The pleasure was all ours, Leonard. (Columbia)