Note: In November, there will be a re-release of The Band’s eponymous 1969 album (aka “The Brown Album.”) The album will feature not only alternate tracks but also The Band’s full 1969 Woodstock set. I heard Robbie interviewed on Sirius. At Woodstock, he and the other guys had the challenge of coming on at 10 pm Sunday night following Ten Years After’s electrifying set. The crowd was jacked up but they brought them down to a more ‘hymnal’ state by doing “Chest Fever.”
I’m going to just cheat here and give you the lowdown direct from Jambase and Rolling Stone:
“Robbie Robertson’s new album coincides with the September 5 premiere of the documentary film Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson And The Band at the Toronto International Film Festival. (There’s a song called “Once Were Brothers” about his bandmates on the album.) The 13-track album was produced by Robertson and recorded with bassist Pino Palladino, keyboardist Martin Pradler, drummer Chris Dave, guitarist Afie Jurvanen and vocalist Felicity Williams.
Guests besides Van Morrison contributing to Sinematic include Jim Keltner, Derek Trucks, Citizen Cope, J.S. Ondara, Laura Satterfield, Frédéric Yonnnet and Howie B. The instrumental “Remembrance,” written for the late Paul Allen, features guitarists Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II and renowned drummer Jim Keltner.” (In the interview I heard, Robertson say that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s favorite guitarists were Trucks and Bramhall – ME.)
“Robertson’s follow-up to 2011’s How To Become Clairvoyant was inspired by his work creating music for film, including the forthcoming Martin Scorcese-directed The Irishman. “I Hear You Paint Houses” takes its title from the Charles Brandt book about former mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran that served as the basis for Scorcese’s film.
So let’s do that one. Here’s old pals (Morrison was in Last Waltz) Van the Man and Robertson in a tale of a hired murderer. If you come to this album looking to hear anything even remotely like The Band, forget it. It’s Robertson’s sing/speak style over some – for want of a better expression – swampy, bluesy R&B:
Due, I guess, to Robertson working on the Scorsese movie, his mind was wrapped around bad guy stuff. But in this one, “Walk in Beauty Way,” he and Toronto singer Felicity Williams sing about getting a lot more friendly:
I no longer know where I started, no
I know what you called upon
But I still hunger for a touch, yeah
I think about her way too much
Oh, smoky nights on the ridge
I was layin’ in your bed
I wanna whisper, wanna scream
I wanna crawl inside your dream
If you’re looking for an album to cruise down the highway and rock out to, this is not the album for you. With his dreamy slow jams and distorted guitar, Robbie is clearly going for a mood. “I was working on all these things,” Robertson says. “I was working on my album, and on music for the movie, and on this documentary. All these things were kind of swirling around, and I didn’t know how to keep them separate. So I didn’t.”
I’ll leave you with one more number the final tune, an instrumental called “Remembrance” featuring the aforementioned Messrs. Trucks and Bramhall. Robbie played it for Scorsese who he said decided to roll it at the end of The Irishman, a movie I can’t wait to see. (Limited theatrical release, then Netflix.)
My feelings on this album? I’ve put in a couple of spins and while I somewhat like it and the mood it creates, I don’t think it’s something I’d listen to all the time nor will it make me forget the Band albums. Looking forward to that Band re-release and Woodstock stuff, quite honestly.