Robbie Robertson, How to Become Clairvoyant
Six Nations Mohawk Robbie Robertson, the lead songwriter for The Band and #78 of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, has released his fifth solo album How to Become Clairvoyant, his first album in ten years. From the first track, the streetwise “Straight Down the Line,” to finish, Clairvoyant is classic, bluesy rock. Robertson’s voice has evolved into a familiar super-cool, veteran-rocker rasp; at some times reminiscent of Joe Cocker, at others his old collaborator Bob Dylan. Speaking of collaborators, this album teems with A-list guests, including Eric Clapton (on electric guitar, slide guitar and vocals), Steve Winwood (organ) and Rocco DeLuca (dobro, backing vocals). Clapton contributes to “He Don’t Live Here No More,” which comes on like a gentler ZZ Top and has a slight Latin flavor. “Madame X,” an instrumental written by Clapton and massaged by Trent Reznor, is unabashedly new-agey and suggestive of Native flute influence, and on “When the Night was Young” Robertson finds a remarkably compatible vocal partner in Angela McCluskey (you loved her in Telepopmusik’s single/Mitsubishi anthem “Breathe”). Some rock legends are content to phone it in—not the case for 67-year-old Robertson. It’s been 40 years since he lamented “The Shape I’m In,” and today we find him in as fine a form as ever.
Worth Checking Out:
Alex E. Smith, Cheevers Toppah, Nitanis “Kit” Landry, Rain in July: Native American Vocal Harmony
Rain In July is a collection of mostly a cappella Native vocal harmonies sung by Alex E. Smith (Pawnee/Sac and Fox), Cheevers Toppah (Kiowa/Navajo), and Nitanis “Kit” Landry (Ojibwe). Smith and Toppah supply male vocal force, Landry female melody. The trio create vocal harmonies reminiscent of Gregorian chants, but with an unmistakable tribal influence, with thunderous sound effects reinforcing the album’s stormy theme.