Singer Robert Plant's interesting and colorful journey in music continues further with a brilliant new outing named lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar. For one thing, this record shows that as Plant gets older he does wondrous things but settle down. His former band casts a long shadow in today's music, with Led Zeppelin as popular as ever, and in a year that saw the band's albums re-released in lavish box sets and various audio formats, Robert Plant takes a new turn with this record.
When he embarked on a solo career he seemed to be deliberately distancing himself from his lurid past as a rock god he wholeheartedly embraced experimentation to explore different and unanticipated musical directionssometimes with mixed results but nevertheless it was the road less traveled. What has always been interesting about Plant, even from pre-Zeppelin times was that he was always an ardent student of music, a keen listener, a restless explorer, a traveler of both time and space, and as a result those interests have reflected strongly on his solo records more and more as the years went by.
Much of his records prior to this one were explorations and inventive interpretations of folk songs such as the popular Raising Sand, (Rounder Records, 2007) the duet with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss or the Band of Joy (Rounder Records, 2010) which continued to explore the Americana sound from the Raising Sand. But lullaby and ...The Ceaseless Roar has much more in common with Mighty Rearranger, (Sanctuary, 2005) which was a mixture of rock and world music, only this record puts more ingredients in the pot and the results are more astonishing.
34 years since Led Zeppelin disbanded Plant has really reached a second creative high with lullaby. His muse has led him around the globe and those experiences and influences have poured into this record much deeper. Plant's elastic approach to songwriting has long reflected a world of influences beyond conventional borders. The album seamlessly brings together sounds as diverse as rock, folk, African music, blues and situated them within a swirl of addictive electronic loops and rhythms. All but two songs, the opener "Maggie's Song," an Appalachian folk song, and its reprised version, the closing song "Arbaden (Maggie's Babby)" were written by Plant and his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, which performances are delivered with a wonderful blend of smoothness and swagger. The music reflects the myriad of Plant's interests that his band masterfully mixes into its own musical Esperanto.
Both cohesive and inconceivably modern, these 11 perfectly honed tracks sound like a profound realization of the connections between ancient and modern. Ancient and electronic elements blend in a timeless, ethereal fashion, transcending labels and it's the kind of incongruous details in it that makes ears prick up with delight. On top of that is Plant's voice that brilliantly and masterfully shapes and guides these songs. While his voice is a far cry from the days with Led Zeppelin this set finds Plant's expressive voice in fine form.
lullaby and ...The Ceaseless Roar is easily Robert Plant's finest solo record to date. This carefully crafted record is a complex and complete artistic statement from a unique, open-minded group and on top of that it is a reminder of how exciting music can be made when it truly bends boundaries. It finds Plant's questing spirit as strong as ever.
Little Maggie, Rainbow, Pocketful of Golden, Embrace Another Fall,
Turn It Up, A Stolen Kiss, Somebody There, Poor Howard, House of
Up on the Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur), Arbaden (Maggie's
Robert Plant: vocals, production; Justin Adams: bendirs, djembe,
guitars, tehardant, background vocals; Liam "Skin" Tyson: banjo,
guitar, background vocals; John Baggott: keyboards, loops, moog
piano, tabal, background vocals; Juldeh Camara: kologo, ritti,
vocals; Billy Fuller: bass, drum programming, omnichord, upright
Dave Smith: drum set.