When Robert Plant sprung into international fame back in 1968, he was a young inexperienced 19 year old lad from the Midlands. His luscious locks and powerful stage performance took the world by storm, and fame and fortune made Led Zeppelin one of the most successful groups of all time, proving to be an inspiration to future generations of musicians and earning their rightful place in Rock’n’Roll history.
When Led Zeppelin finished, Robert did not, instead he carved out a solo career which in itself spans over three decades. Now at 66 years of age, he still has the luscious locks, still has the voice, and is still making fantastic music, and is a man who never seems to remain still or fixated with the past, always looking forward.
“Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar” is his tenth solo album and his first with his band “The Sensational Space Shifters”. With this new volume of work, I wasn’t disappointed with what I heard. Robert Plant’s voice has mellowed over the years; however his creative ability as a singer/songwriter has not.
The opening track “Little Maggie” has a afro-Celtic pulse running through with a hint of folk thrown in for good measure and sets the listener up for what is the come.
“Rainbow” leads on from this, another rich and atmospheric tune which reminded me of the 2005 “Mighty Rearranger” album, and we get the first “ooohhhhhhhhhhhhh” which, let’s be honest, you would expect from Mr Plant.
The eastern sounds of “Pocketful of Golden” give a subtle nod back to the Zeppelin days, in particular to “Thank you”, one of Roberts’s first major self-penned contributions.
The instrumental build up on “Embrace Another Fall”, along with the cameo Celtic folk vocals of Julie Murphy and strong guitar throughout make this a firm favorite for me.
The more I listen, the more I realise how each track is unlike any he has done previously and even though I may pick up on very small similarities or connections to something of the past, they are minute.
“A Stolen Kiss” is the softest composition on the album and Roberts’s low tones seem filled with mournfulness and sorrow. It’s this song which gives the album its title. Definitely an emotional one!
“Somebody there” is another beautiful soft composition which then leads onto “Poor Howard”, a more upbeat banjo song, one which wouldn’t seem out of place being played in an Irish thatched pub with the fire blazing and the “craic a flowing”.
The straightforward and pleasant “House of Love” was more powerful instrumentally than it was vocally, yet fits perfectly into the album, I felt.
Coming towards the end of the album, “Up on The Hollow Hill” gives a wonderful combination of eastern sounding guitars with low vocals and a strong rhythm section.
The finale song “Arbadden (Maggie’s Babby)” is essentially a shorter reprise of the opening track with a healthy eastern style added for good measure.
Robert Plant has never been, and most likely never will be, able to completely distance himself from the magic of Led Zeppelin and his work will always be compared to that which he did so long ago.
But I have to admire a man who has not bowed to relive the pressures of glories past or let such notions hinder his creative journey. Both Robert and The Sensational Space Shifters have produced a new volume of music that any musician would be proud to call their own. I continue to enjoy his music and always look forward to what the “Golden God” will come up with next, never quite sure what direction he will take. Sure as he famously once sang “Yes, there are two paths that you can go by, but in the long run, There’s still time to change the road you’re on”, he’s tried many in his musical career. Over the past ten years I have been very fortunate to have seen Robert Plant perform live on eight occasions. Next months gig in Dublin, Eire will make it nine. I’m eagerly looking forward to this intimate show and can feel the adrenaline bubbling already!!
Robert Plant – Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar: A definite one to add to the collection.
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