Album Reviews

Robert Plant – lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch)

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Robert Plant, lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar, Led Zeppelin, Sensational Space Shifters

When discussing Robert Plant’s solo work, all reviewers worth their column space must be as stone determined not to fall into hollow Led Zeppelin comparisons in their writing as Plant himself is in his music. It’s a hugely difficult task for both subjects, for Zep encompassed and accomplished so much—so much except graceful aging. And this is where Plant has triumphed where many peers have not.

lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar is Plant’s pinnacle. A dark, imposing sonic roar of a record shot through with stoicism and resolve. A disc of departures and arrivals, lacing backwoods Americana with Middle Eastern mists and foggy Celt echoes. The starkly galloping, Appalachian elegy “Little Maggie” opens and closes as two opposing, world-fused apparitions. “Embrace Another Fall” unfolds like a slow, simmering drama with a stirring cameo vocal by Welsh folkie Julie Murphy. The Bo Diddley/West African-propelled “Rainbow” and the blues grunge of “Turn It Up” sound like Eno/Lanois/U2 mashups. The ghostly ruminations of “A Stolen Kiss” and the powerfully emotive “Pocketful of Golden” up the ante with loops, djembe, guitars, piano and the one-stringed Gambian ritti.

This lullaby wouldn’t be possible without the elastic empathy of Plant’s band, the Sensational Space Shifters, whose dexterous, virtuosic grasp of texture, drive, rhythm and flow complete Plant’s grand vision. What was the name of his other band again and why do so many hope they’ll tour once more?

– Mike Jurkovic

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