After spending the majority of his musical career as a (to put it plainly) rock god, no one would have blamed Robert Plant for settling down in remote seclusion, resting on his laurels for years to come. What’s more is, we’d have expected it. But in typical Plant fashion, he surprised us by staying rooted to the music scene even in the 30-plus years since Led Zeppelin called it quits in honor of Jon Bonham’s untimely death.
This September has seen his 10th studio album released, which is the first with his backing band the Sensational Space Shifters, whose name does not appear on the album cover. Robert Plant has finally managed to bring all his musical interests together in one mystical, magical album, an instant classic, unlike some of his past solo works which resulted in puzzled looks instead of Grammys. It hasn’t been a struggleless ride, though, as he told Last.fm during publicity tours for this album.
“Sometimes you’re overwhelmed É Sometimes it’s a walk in the park, sometimes it’s stormy. But we’re all looking for something, as musicians. It’s not about getting a paycheck,” Plant said.
While “Lullaby” is still adventurous, it is emotional without being over the top, lacking the complete abandon of Led Zeppelin vocals, blending unobtrusive, non-overpowering vocals with calmer, bluesy folk music Ñ this album has a confidence and clarity only a man who has been a part of the industry, an integral, movement-starting, deity-status-reaching part of this industry for over 50 years, can ooze. From anyone else, images of being a psychedelic rainbow, a wanderer with “pockets full of gold,” packing a suitcase and burning down the house of love would sound corny, but Plant and his Space Shifters bring it all to life with vivid detail and perfect balance.
The balance achieved in this album has affected Plant in more ways than just the inspirational Ñ he has gone on record to say that this album presents the purest combination and balance of his musical explorations over the past few decades, because it so perfectly represents his “musical wanderlust.” There is a finality to it, a finality which may just be a sign for him to throw in the proverbial musical towel. And after all these years, with such a huge, beautiful legacy behind him, he has earned the right to bring it on home.
Essential tracks include ‘Little Maggie,’ ‘Rainbow,’ ‘Embrace Another Fall’ (with a heavier midsection similar to that of ‘Kashmir’), ‘Poor Howard’ (an interesting take on the song, reminiscent of 2010’s Band of Joy) and ‘A Stolen Kiss.’