How to Become a Clairvoyant (Macro-Biotic Records/429 Records)
(out of 4)
Considering the nostalgia stirred up in recent weeks by Bruce McDonald's three-part Bravo! TV series, Yonge Street: Rock & Roll Stories, in which Robbie Robertson, legendary Toronto guitarist and principle songwriter in The Band, is featured prominently, the release of How to Become a Clairvoyant, his fifth solo recording after a lapse of 11 years, is conspicuously in sync. A skilled facilitator of the voices and stories of other people, Robertson rarely gets autobiographical in his songs, at least in the unambiguous way he approaches his past on this recording, which began as a collaboration with Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood and ended up involving Trent Reznor, Tom Morello and Robert Randolph as well. Clairvoyance, Robertson seems to be saying, may be the legacy of hindsight, as he walks us through his storied past his first thrill ride with 'the devil's music' in 'Straight Down The Line'; memories the rock 'n' roll road in the 1960s in 'When The Night Was Young'; an unapologetic addict's confession in 'He Don't Live Here No More'; his departure from The Band in 'This Is Where I Get Off' offering up answers to questions that must have plagued him most of his life. Not a great deal is revealed, though the album offers Robertson's pleasant growl, some gentle, bluesy grooves and a whole lot of tasteful instrumental work. In many ways, How to Become a Clairvoyant is at once Robertson�s most honest and least overtly ambitious recording. It's the reassuring voice of an old friend counting his blessings way down the road. And that's worth a listen.