Robert Plant: lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar

rb3 Robert Plant
lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar
(Nonesuch)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

He’s been dazed and confused, told us about the big log, taken us to manic nirvana, raised sand with Alison Krauss, joined with Buddy Miller in a Band of Joy and had his lemon squeezed so many times, other rock stars can only bow down in respect. What Robert Plant hasn’t done is dwell on his Led Zeppelin past, doggedly refusing to tour with the reformed band after their one triumphant 2007 performance in the UK.

His 10 solo albums without Jimmy Page have found him eagerly dipping into exotic world music and American folk and country while keeping his toes in the soulful hard rock that put him on the map.

STREAM THE ALBUM

Here he joins with a six piece outfit called the Sensational Space Shifters that includes UK musicians, some of whom he has already worked with on two previous albums. Together they explore wildly inspired if restrained combinations of Plant’s musical personality, shifting from acoustic to electric, rock to Moroccan, dreamy trance to edgy world music within 11 predominantly original songs.

The singer’s muse is in fine form with dreamy, evocative lyrics that wrap around these melodies with mystery and imagination. Drum loops on “Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)” mesh with space guitar to evoke a blues drenched dream that touches on Plant’s roots while expanding his reach. There are none of his once patented banshee-like howls, yet Plant’s voice remains one of the most distinctive in music. He uses his lower register to create mystic adventures in tunes such as “Embrace Another Fall” where a subtle beginning ultimately explodes with shards of crunchy guitar.  Banjo, keyboards and guitar join with exotic instruments like kologo, ritti, djembe, bendir, tabals and others to evoke Plant’s diverse vision of world folk rock.

Now in his mid-60s with nothing left to prove, he remains as creative, curious and truly artistic as ever, perhaps more so. And this stunning entry into his already impressive catalog shows he refuses to rest on his laurels.