After his songwriter father, Leonard Cohen, separated from his mother, Suzanne, singer-songwriter Adam Cohen divided his time between France, Hydra in Greece, New York City and Los Angeles. The latter of these cities he made his home in 1996.

Still, anxious to break away and forge his own musical identity, he set to work on composing. He followed up his self-titled debut (Columbia Records, 1998) with ‘Melancolista’ (2004), which the multi-lingual Cohen recorded entirely in French. (Also that year, Cohen recorded ‘Ex-Girlfriends’ with the band, Low Millions.) The album captured the attention of Capitol Records Canada. His follow-up, ‘Like a Man’, wasn’t conceived until 2012 but it achieved Gold status in Canada.

Cohen’s commanding guitar style is graced by his brilliant baritone and gut-wrenching, conversational lyrics. When playing piano, definite strains of his hero, Randy Newman, come to mind, yet the ideas are distinctively Cohen’s. His themes, which include surviving heartbreak and political activism, defy age, gender and convention. In his earlier years, he may have struggled with identity but he has found himself on trusted ground with this autumn release.

Some “sons of” worry about living under the shadows of a famous father, and Cohen faced similar fears early in his career. He, however, ultimately not only created a one-of-a-kind persona, but grew to embrace and perform his father’s treasures and to receive his blessings after, nervously, dropping his latest album off outside his parent’s door. Although this stage of his career demands and deserves a lot of time, Cohen also oversees his father’s thriving and in-demand art collection.

Cohen also recorded ‘Bird on a Wire’ in 2010 for the album, ‘A Song for My Father’, on which sons and daughters of famous songwriters sang songs their parents made famous. Ben Taylor, Sarah Lee Guthrie, AJ Croce and Ky-mani Marley were a few of the many artists who proudly paid tribute.

In the autumn, Adam Cohen will tour Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK. Cohen spoke with Pennyblackmusic about his early inspirations and recordings and how the experience of fatherhood has captivated his creativity.


PB: Who were your earliest musical influences? What was the first song you ever wrote and the first song you remember your father played for you?

AC: It was partly my father’s record collection, consisting of acts like Hank Williams, Randy Newman, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and early Rod Stewart and, partly, my mother’s record collection, consisting of acts like Bob Marley, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Sade, rounded out by being a kid of the 80’s; Prince, Michael Jackson, the Cure, and early hip hop.

Songs were written (terrible ones) at the dinner table as early as I can remember, It was the way we kept ourselves entertained.

Every morning I’d wake to find my old man playing a song on his guitar, whatever he was working on.

PB: In 2004, you recorded ‘Melancolista’, an album consisting of beautiful love songs sung in French. Although the album received favourable reviews, you haven't recorded new songs in French since that time. Will you do so again? Do you feel more comfortable singing in French or English?

AC: No one appeared to be terribly interested in me singing in French, and they may have been right! It’ll take a stroke of genius or something very compelling for me to try it again. It was a giant failure.

PB: Adam, your young son is on the cover of your new album, ‘We Go Home’. Did Cassius influence your choice of themes or the spirit of the collection?

AC: Fatherhood is a delicious, challenging, thought provoking, course altering affair. The themes on this record are steeped in a conversation I’m having with my boy, with my father and with myself so, yes, my son was a big influence, and being a son myself was as well.

PB: You recorded ‘We Go Home’ in Hydra, Greece and Montreal. How did geography impact the final product?

AC: Neither setting was contrasting to the other. Both are home to me. Both living rooms provided the space and comfort to record this new record. Recording in the homes that saw me grow up was an antidote to the pressure of traditional recording in fancy studios.

PB: Patrick Leonard worked with you on your last album, ‘Like a Man’, in 2012 and that year also acted as producer with your father on ‘Old Ideas’. Who produced ‘We Go Home’ and how do you feel this album is different, production-wise, from your previous recordings?

AC: My good friend, long time collaborator and band mate, Don Miguel, produced this record. The production is a very real progression from the last album. The progression that the songs underwent live is what we captured; a bit of a raising of my hushed voice (on the last record), nothing too carefully or fussy. Where the records are the same is what’s important to me: captured performances, not constructed ones.

PB: "Everyone feels unprepared, everyone feels just a little scared" is how 'Too Real' opens and on 'We Go Home,' you sing, "The radio's on but the signal's weak." On your previous album, you also sang love songs but this collection seems even more personal, raw and focused.

AC: Thank you. I didn’t try for a different style of writing, more raw or otherwise. I just was trying to write the best songs I could.

PB: Was there a particular world event, which inspired 'Uniform?'

AC: ‘Uniform’ came to me in a dream. It’s one of the only musical dreams I’ve ever remembered.

PB: 'Swear I Was There' conveys a palpable sense of desperation. When you sing, "I still have flowers I brought you," it brings to mind that sinking feeling we get when we're not believed or when someone misjudges our intentions even though we know our heart was in the right place. Was this based on a true story?

AC: I love that song, I’ve had it for years and, yes, the story is a recollection of real events.

PB: Tell us about your upcoming touring plans. Who will be performing onstage with you and will you hit any new venues or cities or play familiar places?

AC: There are lots of dates and cities, all starting in the beginning of Sept. 2014!

Please come to https://www.facebook.com/AdamCohenMusic for news and info or just adamcohen.com

PB: Final question: What's the most important thing you've learned from your son and the most important thing you hope to teach him?

AC: That’s too big a question to tackle, and too private but please listen to ‘So Much to Learn’ and ‘Put Your Bags Down’ both written to my son, using the language and stories and tradition of my father.

PB: Thank you.















Related Links:

https://www.facebook.com/AdamCohenMusic


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