First Listen: Robbie Robertson, 'How To Become Clairvoyant'

Mar 27, 2011

If ever there was an album that was well worth a long wait, Robbie Robertson's fifth solo album is the one. Coming 13 years after his last album, Contact from the Underworld of Redboy, this new collection is called How to Become Clairvoyant — and it's a clear reminder of Robertson's musical prowess, which has been missing from our ears since 1998.

How to Become Clairvoyant is a collaboration with Eric Clapton. From the earliest stages of the creation of this music, Robbie and Eric worked closely, but without having much of a plan in place for where they were headed. As the years passed, those early ideas slowly grew into How To Become Clairvoyant. Robertson's commitment to create the soundtrack for the Martin Scorsese's movie Shutter Island slowed the proceedings down a little more, but that didn't take anything away from what this new album would become. In fact, the break from recording sessions may have helped Robbie out by allowing him to step away from his new songs and later return to them with a fresh outlook.

In these final sessions, Robertson enhanced things with the assistance of a few friends. Guitarists Robert Randolph and Tom Morello (of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave) were brought in, along with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, vocalist Angela McClusky (formerly of Wild Colonials), Taylor Goldsmith (from the band Dawes), Rocco Deluca and others. These talented guests add a sonic dimension to the basic tracks created by Robertson, Clapton, Steve Winwood, bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Ian Thomas.

Musically, How to Become Clairvoyant steps away from the Native American influence of Music for the Native Americans (Robertson's 1994 album with the Red Road Ensemble) and Contact From The Underworld Of Redboy. This new collection has more in common with his first two solo albums, 1987's Robbie Robertson and 1991's journey to New Orleans, Storyville.

The result is an album that tells a personal, at times even autobiographical, story set to the type of sonically rich soundtrack that we have come to expect from Robbie Robertson's solo work. But, for the first time, we get a glimpse inside the man that, for nearly the past forty-five years, has written some of popular music's most important songs.

I guess it's true that good things come to those who wait. Copyright 2011 WFUV-FM. To see more, visit