Essential New Music: Leonard Cohen’s “Can’t Forget: A Souvenir Of The Grand Tour”

LeonardCohen

Drawn from Leonard Cohen’s Herculean world tour of 2012-’13, this rather humbly titled live disc feels like just that—a postcard, a snapshot—but it’s still a gorgeous one. Can’t Forget offers yeoman readings of a handful of songs from Cohen’s career; it’s heavy on the ’70s-’90s, opening with a stately but intense reading of “Field Commander Cohen” and moving through “Night Comes On,” “Joan Of Arc” and the title cut. But four of its 10 songs are new Cohen originals or previously unrecorded covers, including an endlessly charismatic take on George Jones’ sunset-years rumination “Choices,” which the 80-year-old Cohen tackles with what sounds like an earned gladness.

The Cohen on Can’t Forget has by now earned his Field Commander stripes, and then some: “Thank you for your generosity,” he says to a laughing Australian audience, “as a gesture of compassion to the elderly.” His last two studio albums revealed that his creative fires are still lit. But even on a comparatively light offering like this one, it’s a treat to hear Cohen so comfortable in both his old and new skins.

—Eric Waggoner

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