Leonard Cohen took a famously long time to write his songs, in some case years, but once finished many of them have become vehicles of endless reinterpretation. One of the Canadian songwriting legend’s most celebrated is “Suzanne,” which has received a ghostly new cover from Lindi Ortega.
Recorded for the SiriusXM Polaris Cover Sessions, Ortega – a compatriot of Cohen, who passed away in 2016 – delivers a breathy rendition of “Suzanne,” her vocal given fluttering vibrato that’s accentuated by a haunting echo effect. The spare accompaniment of piano, drums, and electric guitar leaves plenty of room for Ortega to luxuriate in the lyrics, which become all the more impressionistic with her sensuous, elongated phrasing.
“Suzanne” was the first track on Cohen’s eponymous debut, released in 1967, and a prime canonical piece for the Polaris series, which has previously included covers of Arcade Fire and Feist, by Hannah Georgas and Joel Plaskett, respectively. Ortega released her fifth LP, Liberty, in March, and plays the Fleece in Bristol, U.K. tonight, June 13th.