Release Date: May 12, 2015
Record label: Sony Music
Genre(s): Singer/Songwriter, Adult Contemporary, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
The fourth live album to come out of Leonard Cohen's 2008-2013 world tour is a fascinating glimpse into his creative process. More than half of its 10 songs were recorded in soundchecks, where Cohen and his band were able to test new tunes and refurbish standards like 1971's "Joan of Arc," heard here in a lustrous duet with Sharon Robinson. The highlight is a cover of George Jones' classic alcoholic's lament "Choices" — rather than try to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful voice in the history of country music, Cohen renders the song in a resigned, conversational rumble, amping up its grim power by singing it with uncanny closing-time cool.
Leonard Cohen's return to touring in 2008 kicked off a remarkably productive and satisfying third act in his career, and his continued enthusiasm for live performances has been both surprising and rewarding, as Cohen has reminded his fans that he's one of the most compelling artists you can see on a stage, even in his eighth decade. But Cohen has also released three live albums since his comeback -- 2009's Live in London, 2010's Songs from the Road, and 2014's Live in Dublin -- and even his most loyal patrons must be wondering how badly they need a fourth. Product overkill might keep some of Cohen's fans away from 2015's Can't Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live performances and soundcheck recordings from 2012 and 2013 road dates, but from a strict standpoint of quality, Cohen's batting average is still admirably high, and this album once again leaves no doubt as to his continued strength as a vocalist.
CALL HIM the hardest-working octogenarian in show business. At 80, Leonard Cohen has outperformed his sole contemporary on the pop charts — Tony Bennett, 88 — by releasing three albums in the past seven months. There is a bit of a cheat to his spurt. While last fall’s “Popular Problems” is a studio work, two of the three releases come from concerts: “Live from Dublin,” issued last December, offered three hours of songs from Cohen’s 2012 tour, with no new pieces included.
Last December’s Live in Dublin documented one magical night on Leonard Cohen’s last globe-trot, a world tour in perpetual stop-start motion. The appeal of this latest Cohen live offering hinges on a brace of more rarely performed tracks – Joan of Arc as a too-sweet duet with Hattie Webb; the lyrically dense Field Commander Cohen - sweetened by two new songs and two new covers. You can hear the louche blues of Never Gave Nobody Trouble online; its partner, Got a Little Secret, is another musically mischievous blues whose words make reference to the disparity between great age and great feeling.