Review: Robertson’s return triumphant on new CD
Robbie Robertson, “How to Become Clairvoyant” (429 Records)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Robbie Robertson returns after a more than a decade break between solo albums with the triumphant “How to Become Clairvoyant,” a reflective and moving collaboration with Eric Clapton.
Robertson, the lead songwriter and guitarist for The Band before leaving the group in 1976, has been far from prolific in his solo career. “Clairvoyant” is just his fifth solo release since 1987, but it’s worth the wait.
While his two most recent solo records explored his Mohawk ancestry, “Clairvoyant” delves into his musical past.
“Straight Down the Line” starts the record off with a kick as Robertson, in his whispery growl of a voice, tells the story of advice he got from an old blues man years ago on the chitlin’ circuit. “When the Night Was Young,” the perfect follow and perhaps the record’s best track, reflects on Robertson’s youthful idealism.
Robertson was urged on to make the record by Clapton, who co-wrote three of the songs and performs on seven including the haunting duet “Fear of Falling.” Robertson also gets help from Steve Winwood, Tom Morello, Robert Randolph and Trent Reznor.
While it’s a group effort, “Clairvoyant” is most certainly Robertson’s record.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: “This Is Where I Get Off” addresses Robertson’s departure from The Band in the most direct way he’s ever put on tape. “Walking out on the boys/ Was never the plan/ We just drifted off course/ Couldn’t strike up the band.”