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Review: Robertson looks back at The Band in ‘Sinematic’

By SCOTT BAUERSeptember 17, 2019
This cover image released by UMe shows "Sinematic," a release by Robbie Robertson. (UMe via AP)
This cover image released by UMe shows "Sinematic," a release by Robbie Robertson. (UMe via AP)

Robbie Robertson, “Sinematic” (UMe)

Robbie Robertson, the former lead songwriter and guitar player for The Band, taps into his love of films for “Sinematic,” his first new studio album in eight years.

The inspiration for “Sinematic” shouldn’t come as a surprise given Robertson’s close and longtime friendship with filmmaker Martin Scorsese.

While the film-inspired songs are mostly hits with a couple misses, the 76-year-old Robertson is dialed-in when taking a bittersweet look back at his days with The Band in “Once Were Brothers.”

“Once were brothers/Brothers no more,” Robertson sings with his signature raspy drawl. “We lost our connection/After the war/There’ll be no revival/There’ll be no encore.”

The track was written for an upcoming documentary about The Band based on Robertson’s memoir with Scorsese on board as executive producer.

It’s not the only song where Robertson turns inward. On “Dead End Kid,” he sings about overcoming obstacles and assumptions made about him as he yearned to “play my song out across this lake.”

Van Morrison, who was on the bill for The Band’s farewell concert memorialized in “The Last Waltz,” shares vocals with Robertson on “I Hear You Paint Houses,” a duet about the mafia code for hiring a hit man.

“The Shadow,” a nostalgic look back at the crime radio drama, could have easily been ditched without losing anything. The otherwise splendid record, Robertson’s sixth solo effort, also includes a pair of hauntingly beautiful instrumentals.

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