New Leonard Cohen Album, “Thanks for the Dance,” Announced for November

Leonard Cohen

Photo courtesy Sony Music

Shortly before Leonard Cohen passed away in 2016, the troubadour’s son, Adam, spoke with Zoomer’s Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Boyd about working on what appeared to be his father’s final album, You Want It Darker.

“I can only hope I served my father with the fidelity and skill that I wanted to bring to the project,” he said of the disc, which he produced while his father battled cancer. “And I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.”

As it turns out, that chance, unexpectedly, presented itself shortly after Leonard’s death, when Adam hunkered down in his converted backyard garage/production studio to, as a press release this morning put it, “work with his father again, to stay in the company of his voice.” Using “bare musical sketches, at times little more than vocals,” recorded during the sessions for You Want It Darker, Adam enlisted a roster of celebrated singers and musicians to craft what became a new, posthumous Leonard Cohen album, Thanks for the Dance.”

Leonard Cohen
The cover of Leonard Cohen’s forthcoming album, “Thanks for the Dance”

The nine-track album, available on Nov. 22, features contributions from musical talents including Damien Rice, Feist, Beck, Jennifer Warnes, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, composer Dustin O’Halloran, Spanish laud player and long-time Cohen collaborator Javier Mas and famed Canadian producer Daniel Lanois. As well, the Westmount, Que.-based Shaar Hashomayim choir, whose vocals proved one of the core elements of the You Want It Darker album, returns for a song on Thanks for the Dance.

One on track, titled “The Goal” (which you can watch a video for below), Leonard encapsulates the thoughts and struggles he faced in his final months.

I can’t leave my house/Or answer the phone

I’m going down again/But I’m not alone

Settling at last/Accounts of the soul

This for the trash/That paid in full

As for the fall/It began long ago

Can’t stop the rain/Can’t stop the snow

I sit in my chair/I look in the street

The neighbour returns/My smile of defeat

I move with the leaves/I shine with the chrome

I’m almost alive/I’m almost at home

No one to follow/And nothing to teach

Except that the goal/Falls short of the reach

“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 noted in the press release. “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.”

The announcement of Thanks for the Dance represents the first new offering of Leonard Cohen’s work since the release of the 2018 posthumous book of poetry The Flame.

“If you’re lucky, things deepen between members in a family,” Leonard Cohen told Boyd during a You Want It Darker event shortly before his passing. “I’ve been lucky … My son and my daughter have both been an incredibly sustaining force, especially through this recent bad patch.”

The new album reveal comes on the same day that Canada Post unveils three new stamps bearing Cohen’s likeness in the troubadour’s hometown of Montreal — all of which exemplifies part of the spirit of Cohen’s work that Adam Cohen discussed in his 2016 interview with Zoomer.

“It’s about the unexpected that has characterized my father’s life and career,” he said. “Which is to say that if life is a beautifully written play with a terribly written third act. That is not the case for my father. He somehow has been a real outlier in almost every respect.”

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