Robbie Robertson gets personal on new disc
A founding member of the Band, the influential quintet that backed up Bob Dylan live in his early gone-electric days, Robbie Robertson breaks a long silence with the often poignant "How to Become Clairvoyant" ( * * * out of four stars, out April 5 on 429 Records).
The songs in which Robertson reflects on his life and career make for compelling listening, particularly "This Is Where I Get Off," which addresses his departure from the Band. There's also a nice balance between the wistful "When the Night Was Young," a tender recollection of '60s idealism, and "He Don't Live Here No More," an unsparing account of Robertson's darker side.
Much of the album features tasteful guitar playing and harmony vocals from his old friend Eric Clapton, but there's some fresher blood on "Clairvoyant' as well. Pedal-steel whiz Robert Randolph, Rage Against the Machine ax man Tom Morello and Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor are expertly deployed to add edginess to the sound and keep this affair from basking too much in nostalgia.