- Robbie Robertson
Sinematic: Vinyl 2LP
The title says it all, Sinematic, Robbie Robertson’s sixth solo album, sprang from a deep immersion in film work, his own dramatic life story and a fascination with the darker corridors of human nature.
Robertson sings the opening verse on the album with malevolent delight: “Shall we take a little spin/To the dark side of town?”
It sets the stage for gripping tales of villainy and vice, for character studies of mobsters and gangsters embroiled in corruption and crime and for melancholy stories about destruction and devastation.
Narrated in Robertson’s cool parched croon, the yarns unspool over his tasteful vibrant guitar stylings and a bedrock of moody, midtempo rock anchored on most tracks by bassist Pino Palladino (John Mayer Trio, The Who) and drummer Chris Dave (D’Angelo, Adele).
Produced by Robertson and recorded at The Village, the 13-song collection is the songwriter’s first set of originals since 2011’s introspective collaboration with Eric Clapton, How To Become Clairvoyant. In the interim, he penned his bestselling memoir, 2016’s “Testimony,” praised by The New York Times for having “the mythic sweep of an early Terrence Malick movie.” He composed music for “Once Were Brothers,” a documentary based on “Testimony,” and scored “The Irishman,” director Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel.
Each project inspired Sinematic’s evocative imagery and shady themes. Why the perverted spelling? Cinematic felt too serious and obvious, Robertson decided. Sinematic is noir with a wink.
“There’s some naughty subject matter here,” he says.
Explaining how Sinematic evolved, Robertson adds, “I was working on music for “The Irishman” and working on the documentary, and these things were bleeding into each other. I could see a path. Ideas for songs about haunting and violent and beautiful things were swirling together like a movie. You follow that sound and it all starts to take shape right in front of your ears. At some point, I started referring to it as ‘Peckinpah Rock’,” a nod to Sam Peckinpah, the late director of such violent Westerns as “The Wild Bunch.”
Enhancing the album’s cinematic thrust is a suite of multimedia images that Robertson created, including art work for the cover and each individual song. Listeners are brought even further into his Sinematic world with a series of striking portraits and abstract images that range from expressionist paintings to experimental photography. In one depiction, a photo of Robertson’s Walther 9mm pistol, “the same gun James Bond used,” drenched in crimson and gold, is juxtaposed next to a menacing figure, in another, paint seeps into a textured canvas as if it’s been burned in.
- Vinyl LP