ROBBIE ROBERTSON TURNS THE LENS INWARD AND RECALLS THE LOW EXPECTATIONS AND NAYSAYERS HE FACED AS A YOUTH ON DEFIANT, ELECTRIFYING NEW SONG “DEAD END KID” FEATURING GLEN HANSARD
NEW ALBUM, SINEMATIC, DUE SEPTEMBER 20, INSPIRED BY LEGENDARY SONGWRITER’S LIFELONG PASSION FOR CINEMA AND A FASCINATION WITH HUMAN NATURE’S DARKER CORRIDORS
NEW DOCUMENTARY FILM, ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND, ACQUIRED BY MAGNOLIA PICTURES FOR WORLDWIDE DISTRIBUTION FOLLOWING TIFF PREMIERE
LISTEN TO “DEAD END KID” HERE
"Dead End Kid" Single Artwork - Created by Robbie Robertson
13 SEPTEMBER 2019 (TORONTO, ON) – On “Dead End Kid”, one of the many standouts on Robbie Robertson’s new album, Sinematic, the legendary songwriter and musician turns the lens inward as he recalls some of the obstacles and low expectations he faced as a youth. “When I was growing up in Toronto, I was telling people, ‘One of these days I’m going to make some music and go all over the world,’” Robertson said. “Everyone was like, that’s never going to happen. You’re a dead end kid. Because my relatives were First Nation people and Jewish gangsters, it was assumed my dreams were going to explode. I found strength in overcoming that disbelief.”
Wielding his guitar like a dangerous weapon, he demonstrates the breathtaking playing skills that caused a frenzy on Bob Dylan’s infamous 1966 electric tour and that helped to birth the Americana genre as principle songwriter of The Band. His defiant lyrics recall his teenage dream to play his music around the globe: “I want to show the world/Something they ain’t never seen/I want to take you somewhere/You ain’t never been.” Robertson’s raspy vocal is perfectly complemented by the soulful, soaring voice of Glen Hansard, the acclaimed Irish vocalist of The Frames, The Swell Season, and star of the film Once. The song is available now for streaming and as an instant grat download with digital preorder of Sinematic.
Sinematic will be released on CD, digital and 180-gram 2LP vinyl on September 20 via UMe/Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company, with a Deluxe Edition limited to 1000 copies to follow on October 25. The Deluxe Edition presents the album on CD and 180-gram 2LP vinyl with a 36-page hardcover book featuring custom artwork Robertson has created for each track. The 13-song self-produced collection is Robertson’s first new studio album since 2011’s introspective How To Become Clairvoyant.
“Dead End Kid” comes on the heels of “Once Were Brothers”, a bittersweet reflection on The Band that was released in conjunction with the premiere of the feature film documentary, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival to widespread praise on September 5. Ahead of the screening, Magnolia Pictures announced they have acquired the worldwide rights of the film and are planning a theatrical release in 2020. Robertson is joined on the track by Nairobi native J.S. Ondara and American singer/songwriter Citizen Cope. Mournful strains of a harmonica and organ play as Robertson relates The Band’s farewell, singing “Once were brothers/Brothers no more.” Of the song, Robertson says, “There is war and conflict involved. Writing it hurt inside sometimes, but those experiences can be rewarding in the emotional outcome. It hurt but I loved it.”
Inspired by Robertson’s acclaimed 2016 autobiography Testimony, director Daniel Roher’s Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band is a confessional, cautionary, and sometimes humorous tale of Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band. The compelling film blends rare archival footage, photography, iconic songs, and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators including Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Taj Mahal, Dominique Robertson, and Ronnie Hawkins. Made in conjunction with Imagine Documentaries, White Pine Pictures, Bell Media Studios, and Universal Music Canada’s Shed Creative, the project is executive produced by Martin Scorsese; Imagine Entertainment chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard; Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein for Imagine Documentaries; White Pines Pictures’ president Peter Raymont, and COO Steve Ord; Bell Media president, Randy Lennox; Jared Levine; Michael Levine; Universal Music Canada president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios; and Shed Creative’s managing director Dave Harris. The film is produced by Andrew Munger, Stephen Paniccia, Sam Sutherland, and Lana Belle Mauro.
Robertson drew inspiration for Sinematic from his recent film score writing and recording for director Martin Scorsese’s eagerly anticipated organized crime epic The Irishman, as well as the documentary. The album’s evocative opening track, “I Hear You Paint Houses”, also available now for streaming and as an instant grat download with digital album preorder, was drawn from Scorsese’s film and the book it’s based on, Charles Brandt’s I Heard You Paint Houses about confessed hit man Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. The song is a riveting duet with Van Morrison that features bright guitar and a blithe tone that belies its chilling lyrics. Mob code for hiring a hit man, painting houses refers to spattering walls with blood.
Opening with Robertson’s devilish invitation, “Shall we take a little spin/To the dark side of town?,” the opening track sets the album’s stage for more gripping tales of villainy and vice and powerful stories about destruction and despair. “I was working on music for The Irishman and working on the documentary, and these things were bleeding into each other,” says Robertson of the impetus for Sinematic. “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, Robertson says, to Sam Peckinpah, the late director of such violent Westerns as The Wild Bunch.
Narrated in Robertson’s cool parched croon, the yarns unspool over his vibrant guitar stylings and a bedrock of moody, mid-tempo rock, anchored on most tracks by bassist Pino Palladino (John Mayer Trio, The Who), drummer Chris Dave (D’Angelo, Adele), and keyboardist Martin Pradler, who also mixed the record. The band is rounded out with Afie Jurvanen, who provides guitar and backing vocals, along with vocalist Felicity Williams, a regular collaborator with Jurvanen in his band Bahamas. Robertson is joined on the album by special guest vocalists Van Morrison, Glen Hansard, Citizen Cope, J.S. Ondara, and Laura Satterfield; musicians Jim Keltner, Derek Trucks, Frédéric Yonnet, and Doyle Bramhall II; and producer Howie B who provides throbbing electronic textures to several tracks.
Throughout the album, Robertson takes listeners through a colourful tour of society’s seedy underbelly. “Shanghai Blues” is a vivid saga examining China’s notorious Green Gang mobster Du Yuesheng, who dominated opium, gambling and prostitution operations in the early 20th Century. More crime and mystery unfold in the moody “Street Serenade” which Robertson calls a “sinphony.” The edgy, electronic “The Shadow” is a nostalgic homage to Orson Welles’s entrancing radio crime drama.
Robertson’s guitar playing takes centre stage on two instrumental tracks, “Wandering Souls” and the album’s string-laden closer, “Remembrance”, written for his late friend, Microsoft co-founder and music lover Paul Allen. Robertson enlisted Allen’s guitar heroes Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall II, plus drummer Jim Keltner, for the grand and melancholy elegy.
Enhancing Sinematic’s film noir thrust is a suite of multimedia images that Robertson created, including artwork 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, ranging from expressionist paintings to experimental photography. In one depiction, a photo of Robertson’s Walther 9mm pistol, “the same gun James Bond used,” is drenched in crimson and gold, juxtaposed next to a menacing figure. In another, paint seeps into a textured canvas as if it’s been burned in. The art is included in the Standard Edition’s CD and LP booklet and presented even more elegantly in the Deluxe Edition’s lavish 12”x12” casebound hardcover book.
For fans who would like to own a piece of the artwork, four images – the Sinematic album cover, “Beautiful Madness”, “Shanghai Blues”, and “Walk In Beauty Way” – are being made available for purchase as archival-quality, framed canvas prints in a limited run of 100 for each. Ten canvas prints of the album’s cover art will be signed by Robertson with proceeds benefiting the American Indian College Fund. To view and order the images, visit: https://RobbieRobertson.lnk.to/Sinematic
As Robertson prepares to release his sixth solo album, The Band’s iconic self-titled sophomore LP will turn 50 just a few days later (plans to celebrate the anniversary will be announced soon). For six decades, the legendary songwriter, musician and guitarist has created timeless, influential music that has transported and transfixed generations, just as he dreamed about as a kid growing up in Toronto. With Sinematic, Robbie Robertson has once again created a captivating album that builds on his celebrated solo works while pushing forward in new sonic directions.
Photo Credit: Silvia Grav
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SINEMATIC - CD/DIGITAL TRACKLIST:
1. I Hear You Paint Houses
2. Once Were Brothers
3. Dead End Kid
5. Walk In Beauty Way
6. Let Love Reign
7. Shanghai Blues
8. Wandering Souls
9. Street Serenade
10. The Shadow
11. Beautiful Madness
12. Praying For Rain
SINEMATIC - 2LP VINYL TRACKLIST:
- I Hear You Paint Houses
- Once We Were Brothers
- Dead End Kid
- Walk In Beauty Way
- Let Love Reign
- Shanghai Blues
- Wandering Souls
- Street Serenade
- The Shadow
- Beautiful Madness
- Praying For Rain
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