A posthumous album of Leonard Cohen songs completed by his son and friends, admirers and collaborators after his death in 2016, titled “Thanks for the Dance,” is slated for released on Nov. 22.
Adam Cohen, son and latter-day producer of the esteemed poet, singer and songwriter, supervised the creation of the new collection, which grew out of song sketches his father left behind with the request that Adam bring them to completion.
Adam enlisted several artists from disparate corners of the music world to work on the album’s nine tracks, including Beck, longtime Cohen song interpreter Jennifer Warnes, singers Leslie Feist and Damien Rice, producer-musician Daniel Lanois, guitarist Bryce Dessner of the National, Arcade Fire bassist Richard Reed, pianist Dustin O’Halloran, Spanish laud player Javier Mas, the Cantus Dormus choir of Berlin, the Shaar Hashomayim choir and co-producer Daniel Watson.
“In composing and arranging the music for his words, we chose his most characteristic musical signatures, in this way keeping him with us,” Adam Cohen said in a statement. “What moves me most about the album is the startled response of those who have heard it. ‘Leonard lives!’ they say, one after the other.”
Work is underway on a series of videos for various songs, the first of which, for “The Goal,” can be seen here. Cohen recorded his vocals for the subsequently completed songs during the period he was working on the final album released during his lifetime, “You Want It Darker,” which came out about seven weeks before his death on Nov. 7, 2016, when he was 82.
“You Want It Darker” received near universal acclaim, scoring a 92 (out of a possible 100) on the Metacritic.com aggregate review site. The Telegraph (U.K.) described it as “a bleak masterpiece for hard times from pop’s longest-serving poet,” and Entertainment Weekly lauded Cohen as “a lion in winter, his lyrics heavy with God and sex and death and his legendary voice scraped down to a subterranean rumble.”
During an album release event for that collection held in Los Angeles at the Canadian consulate about three weeks before his death, Cohen playfully disputed a recent interview in which he had told a writer, “I’m ready to die.” On second thought, he told a small audience of writers and well-wishers, “I may have exaggerated.
“One is given to self-dramatization from time to time,” he said in the signature baritone rasp that defined his later recordings and live performances. “I intend to live forever.”