Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant was known for his roaring vocals and wild mane when he helmed the larger-than-life band. His recognizable, otherworldly voice catapulted the band’s electric blues-tinged hard rock to the stratosphere. Once he went solo in 1982, he started experimenting with the rhythms in his music and modified how he used his voice. The instrument he'd used like a blaring siren he was now using like a finely tuned violin. His amazing songwriting skills shone brightly when he set out on his own.
His recent releases Band of Joy (2010) and Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar (2014) are stripped-down works that concentrate on Plant's maturing voice, the various cultural influences he pulls from, and his wistful, musing lyrics. He vividly performs an array of Zeppelin songs when performing live, but his albums are all him, eye-opening combinations of East Indian rhythms, Celtic cadences, blues syncopation and Appalachian timbre.
His eleventh studio album Carry Fire is just another rung in the ladder of Plant fully realizing the maximum potential of his musical scope. Most of the eleven tracks are mellow and reflective, with Plant seeming to favor his voice in several tunes, the most delicate and contained use of his voice to date. The effect is prodigious. The majority of the songs on the album are musings on mortality and love. His slow, gentle takes on "The May Queen," "Season's Song," and "Way with Words" only make the tracks more potent because his delivery is so deliberate and focused.
He easily shifts from the wistful ruminations of “New World” to the faster-paced, revelatory “Carving Up the World Again…a wall and not a fence.” One thing to note in all of Plant’s solo music, he is a master of connecting sounds from various regions, the similarities and differences in the sounds creating an incredibly sonorous and enriching experience. Of all of the songs on the album, "Bluebirds Over the Mountain"—which features Chrissie Hynde—is the most reminiscent of the Zeppelin Plant, bringing shades of "D'yer Mak'er."
Carry Fire continues his work with The Sensational Space Shifters and the name of the band itself is ultimately appropriate for the kinds of music they create together. Each song like a finely crafted piece of art molded by Plant’s summery voice. In "Season's Song" he asks, "What is there left to do?" Plenty. The world is his musical treasure trove and each time he delivers an album, we get to partake of the jewels.
Notable Tracks: “Bluebirds Over the Mountain” | “Carry Fire” | “Heaven Sent”