Robbie Robertson has defied age, and exceeded expectations, as he has delivered a true masterpiece that retains the honesty of his era, but is contemporary enough that one could see him performing as a guest artist on American Idol.
This is a collection of songs that cut to chase, lyrically, and plod along, pleasantly, musically. The emotions Robertson experiences come through loud and clear in both cases. The opening song, 'Straight Down the Line' starts the album off strong as it invites the next tune, 'When the Night was Young' to take over as the album's strongest track. This one will have old hippies, parents and grandparents reminiscing about how damn good they used to be as Robertson tells the tale of the past.
As impressive as the songwriting is, who Robertson has join him on the album is equally impressive. His bass player is Pino Paladino and his drummer Ian Thomas, giving him one of the best rhythm sections on the planet. Appearing on the following tracks is none other than Eric Clapton, 'He Don't Live Here No More,' 'The Right Mistake,' 'This is Where I Get Off,' 'Fear of Falling,' 'She's Not Mine,' 'Won't Be Back' and 'Madame X.' When seven of the twelve tracks on your album feature Slowhand then you know you are in good company. Clapton duets, vocally, with Robertson on 'Fear of Falling' and trades licks on the Clapton penned instrumental 'Madame X,' which also features Trent Reznore.
Other guests include Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, who plays some funky lead on 'Axman,' a song that pays tribute to the greats including Stevie Ray, Jimi James (Hendrix), Link Wray and many more. Bluesman Robert Randolph and Steve Winwood also make guest appearances.
The bottom line here is that Robbie Robertson has created one of the best albums of his career, and when that career includes playing with Bob Dylan and also a massively successful career with The Band, then that is saying something.
How to Become Clairvoyant is simply brilliant.
By Jeb Wright