Robbie Robertson makes his long-awaited return as creative musical force this spring with the release of his first solo album in thirteen years: How to Become Clairvoyant, due April 5 via 429. The legendary songwriter, guitarist and founder of The Band -- perhaps the most important and influential outfit in the beginning of the "roots/rock" music movement -- draws upon an eclectic guest list as well for the new project. Eric Clapton (who co-wrote three of the tracks) joins Robertson in the studio on six songs while other cameos are made by Steve Winwood, noted blues/pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, Rage Against the Machine-ist Tom Morello and even Trent Reznor, who contributes "additional textures" to the instrumental "Madame X".
"The boys helped me out," Robertson tells Rolling Stone. "I think I've written some really good songs, and ... it turned out quite extraordinary." The former Band-leader, now a ripe 67 years old, turns his lyrical focus on a number of interesting topics for Clairvoyant, from his final days as frontman for The Band in the aptly titled "This Is Where I Get Off" to addiction, idealism of the 60's and what he calls and "rock'n'roll's early reputation as the devil's music". Lead track "When the Night Was Young" -- featuring lovely counterpoint vocals from Angela McCluskey -- sounds like vintage Robertson: a bluesy stroll through rural folk/rock, sumptuous production and waltzing bass line setting the stage for stinging guitar fills and Robertson's downtrodden vocal rasp. We're also taken by the dark, foreboding title track, an atmospheric six and a half minute ramble that features Clapton on some subdued fret shadings.
Robbie Robertson - "When the Night Was Young" (from How to Become Clairvoyant)
Robbie Robertson - "How to Become Clairvoyant" (from How to Become Clairvoyant)