In May 2006, Leonard Cohen published his first collection of poetry in 22 years, Book of Longing, having previously used some of the material as songs on his most recent albums, Ten New Songs (2001) and Dear Heather (2004). The book touched on many of the themes he had explored throughout his writing career, including spirituality (he had spent part of his time between books as a postulant at a Buddhist monastery), eroticism, and self-deprecating humor. On June 1, 2007, at the Luminato Festival in Toronto, Ontario, composer Philip Glass premiered his song cycle based on Book of Longing, which is here given a two-CD recording. Cohen is present on the album speaking (not singing) some of his poems, and Glass also has set some of them to music, with singing by a soprano (Dominique Plaisant), a mezzo-soprano (Tara Hugo), a tenor (Will Erat), and a bass-baritone (Daniel Keeling).
A stunningly sophisticated leap into modern musical textures, I'm Your Man re-establishes Leonard Cohen's mastery. Against a backdrop of keyboards and propulsive rhythms, Cohen surveys the global landscape with a precise, unflinching eye: the opening "First We Take Manhattan" is an ominous fantasy of commercial success bundled in crypto-fascist imagery, while the remarkable "Everybody Knows" is a cynical catalog of the land mines littering the surface of love in the age of AIDS.
An incoherent tribute to Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Fan contains some fine versions of some of his best songs, but too often these renditions are half-hearted. Of particular interest are R.E.M.'s "First We'll Take Manhattan" and The Pixies' "I Can't Forget".