"If you are the dealer," Leonard Cohen sang on the title track to his 2016 album You Want it Darker, "I'm out of the game." Not so fast. It was announced on Thursday that Cohen's 14th and final studio effort is among the 10 discs shortlisted for the 2017 Polaris Music Prize. The fedora-lidded laureate and ladies' man – who died at 82 on Nov. 7, 2016, 19 days after the LP's release – is still in the game.
You Want it Darker is part of an eclectic slate of works in the running for the $50,000 prize, awarded to the year's best Canadian album. Nominated discs include A Tribe Called Red's We Are The Halluci Nation, BadBadNotGood's IV, Lisa LeBlanc's Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?, Lido Pimienta's La Papessa, Leif Vollebekk's Twin Solitude and Weaves's self-titled debut.
Rounding out the shortlist are high-profile albums from Gord Downie (Secret Path), Feist (Pleasure) and Tanya Tagaq (Retribution). Both Feist and Tagaq have a previous Polaris to their credit. There has yet to be a repeat prize winner in the award's 11-year history.
And there hasn't been a posthumous awarding, either. The pundits will argue up until the 2017 winner is announced at a Toronto gala on Sept. 18, but Cohen's bleak masterpiece and last lament is among the front-runners, if not the outright favourite for the honour.