If you’re reading this now, it’s highly likely that you’ve heard the work of Leonard Cohen in one form or another at some point in your lifetime. It’d be almost impossible not to with 11 studio albums under his belt reaching as far back as 1967, and what seems like thousands of covers of songs he’s penned. I won’t belabour you with tales of his influence or the incredible pathos of his early songwriting. That much is history, and if you haven’t heard any of it before, then, well what are you doing here right now? No, here Cohen has returned with his first studio album since 2004’s Dear Heather and I’m happy to report that this work stands up to the most impressive of his career.

Six decades. Cohen has released albums in each of the last six decades. Longevity is always something to be praised in legendary artists’ careers, but rarely is such longevity accompanied by releases of such quality as Old Ideas. From Cohen’s vocal entrance on the first track, it’s evident that this is an effort that eclipses much of his late period work.

Though like on Dear Heather his voice barely reaches above the depths of the lowest bass, his lyrics carry similar emotional weight to his most classic albums. Lines like "I’d love to speak to Leonard/He’s a sportsman and a shepherd./He’s a lazy bastard living in a suit" (from the opener ‘Going Home’) are present throughout and are certainly on par with those that he crafted on Songs Of Leonard Cohen or Songs of Love and Hate.

The arrangements here rely less on the sun-baked slide guitar laden compositions of his last effort. If anything they mark a return to his more classic sounds. The hallmark backing vocals are present on tracks like ‘Amen’, providing a sweet counterpoint to Cohen’s world weary bars. Though some of the country influence is still there, and is probably most evidenced in the aforementioned ‘Amen’, on the whole it’s starker than that. These tracks aren’t as heavily reliant on acoustic guitar as his earliest efforts, but they resemble them most in their tone. Even though something like ‘Show Me The Place’ is based around swelling strings and piano, it’s as emotionally raw as early compositions like 'Chelsea Hotel No. 2'.

On the whole this album is probably most sonically similar to his 1974 effort New Skin For The Old Ceremony. Given that said album came out almost forty years ago that’s certainly a good sign. I’m not going to make the case that this is Cohen’s greatest effort, but it certainly marks a late career resurgence from one of the greatest songwriters we’ve ever seen. In his sixth decade of music making, Cohen has stayed strong, and it's refreshing that an artist can do that. Old Ideas, unlike many late career albums, will only serve to further the legacy of this astounding artist, rather than tarnish it.