How to Become a Clairvoyant
Robbie Robertson is a virtuosic songwriter who also regularly makes Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest guitarists of all time. Like all rock’n’roll survivors, he runs on unwavering drive and a willingness to shed his musical skin and see what immerges. As the lead guitarist and principal songwriter of That Band, he propelled the group that defined folk/rock, first by backing Dylan on his breakthrough “plugged in” tours, and then later by giving the world soulful, country flavored rock standards like “The Weight,” “Up On Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” After The Band dissolved in the mid 70’s, Robertson took his evocative powers to the movies. He dabbled in acting, but more significantly, scored and produced the soundtracks for multiple classic Martin Scorsese films. Then he went way back to his roots. A Canadian of Mohawk Indian decent, he put together the Red Road Ensemble, an outfit of native rockers. Throughout the 90’s and 00’s, while ! producing rock albums and documentaries, he released four solo albums and racked up an array of awards.
His fifth solo effort sports contributions from friends like Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Trent Reznor and Tom Morello. No old man’s “duets” album however, Clairvoyant is 12 new, original, funkified slow-rockers. It is however, full of rock and roll nostalgia. Robertson paints portraits of aging blues-slingers and soul singers, name-drops rock’s originators and works in musical quotes from men like Muddy and Jimi. He references them, but he’s no longer trying to one-up them. The overall vibe here is electric mellow.
The album’s title track is awash in organ, low piano and thick bass. Robinson slides gently around on guitar throwing up the occasional light spray of sparks. He forces his perpetually compressed vocals just out above his usual stinging whisper. Ever so slowly, he ratchets the tension even higher on the sentimental slow drag, “Won’t Be Back.” Robertson’s waltzing guitar and subtle background brass spend a full minute building a lump in your throat before he melodically moans the lyrics he’s penned about a lost love. Some straight instrumental tunes show off some of what Robertson’s learned while creating sonic atmospheres for motion pictures. The best of these is Clairvoyant’s highly cinematic closer, “Tango for Django,” which feels like a desert trek, built out of gypsy fiddle, orchestral strings, accordion, rolling kettle drums and crashing cymbals, and out in front, flamenco guitar.
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Source: Daily OM
Another favorite of ours is Robbie's Performance in this classic video -