Review of How To Become Clairvoyant

Where the sky meets the sea
Where the sky meets the sea

Notes From A Devout Robertson Fan

I have been fascinated with Robbie Robertson’s post Band solo career. This interest did not begin until he went native with the release of Music For Native Americans, which was accompanied by a TV documentary. True much of the music was performed by more traditional Indian musicians, but Robertson blends in his own musical touch quite well to complement the other performers. I always felt that the overall effect was quite remarkable. Several years later this effort was supplemented by Robertson’s own journey into his  Iroquois past with the release of  “Contact From the Underworld of Redboy”. Although at times Robertson comes dangerously close to falling in the trap of pan-Indianism, the musical quality is first-rate, as is Robertson’s ability to delve into the mystic, a trait definitely not confined to Native Americans. After greatly appreciating these two releases and went back and found more great enjoyment with Storyville and his self-titled first solo release.

Review of Clairvoyant

So with this background, I was more than happy to see Robertson team up with Eric Clapton for the just released “How To Become Clairvoyant”. The duo guitarist create an enamoring musical backdrop for most the album. As expected their guitar work is first rate and adds an additional element to “How To Become Clairvoyant”. The beginning of  “Clairvoyant” is excellent. In fact, the first four songs provide a classic Robertson nostalgic lookback at the heyday of  Rock & Roll, something Robertson was able to observe firsthand, both as a member of Bob Dylan’s first electric backup, and as a member of the much-heralded “Band”. The second number, “When the Night Was Young”, recaptures this mood as well as any song that you’ll hear. Another of my favorites is “The Right Mistake”, which features Clapton on guitar.

From this high point the album takes a downward turn. Things improve with the track “Axman” and “Won’t Be Back”, a song co-written by Clapton and Robertson. The musical journey ends on a strong note with the title track, “Clairvoyant”, and an instrumental tribute to Django Reinhardt, but yet fails to reach the expectations of the first four songs. The last piece has Marias De Vries (an English keyboardist, composer and producer) listed as the co-writer.

For those expecting a good musical listening experience from the lead guitarist of “Big Pink” and “The Band”, you probably won’t be disappointed. Though for those expecting some of the mystic world that Robertson so deftly explored in his last two albums “Clairvoyant” may be a bit more earthbound.

 

Django Reinhardt became a world renown jazz guitarist, despite a badly burned and deformed "finger" hand.
Django Reinhardt became a world-renown jazz guitarist, despite a badly burned and deformed "finger" hand. photo from Library of Congress,
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