That well-known Wolves fan and erstwhile leonine Led Zep frontman, Robert Plant CBE, has a new album out today. The long-anticipated Band of Joy – named after his first band spookily monikered er… Band of Joy – follows his acclaimed collaboration with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand. And it’s a complete departure, and probably a disappointment to those who were expecting ‘Raising Sand 2.’ Robert Plant has reinvented himself again with a wry nod to his pre-New Yardbirds/Led Zep roots.
Here is a beautifully crafted collection of Americana, folk, country, roots and trad blues standards. Plant is acknowledging his musical roots, something he failed to do with Led Zeppelin and its unashamed ‘borrowing’ of classic blues.
There’s a hint of Zep’s folkie third album with powerful percussion and mandolins on the opening track ‘Angel Dance.’ But there the similarities end.
The Los Lobos track ‘Angel Dance’ has already received a lot of play on BBC Radio 2 and won praise from Chris Evans, who called it a ‘mighty song’ and which in itself might count against it but persevere.
‘You Can’t Buy my Love’ is an up-tempo rocker sandwiched between the six-minute plus epic ‘Silver Rider’ and the slow country harmonies and steel guitar on ‘Falling in Love Again.’
The down home finger picked banjo of traditional ‘Cindy’ and ‘Satan Your Kingdom must come Down’ rub shoulders with a well produced cover of country-folk legend Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Harm’s Swift Way’ and the closing track ‘Even This Shall Pass Away.’
Plant is mature and at the top of his game here and the band – Marco Giovino (percussion), Patty Griffin (vocals), Byron House (bass), Buddy Miller (guitar, baritone and 6-string bass) and Darrell Scott (acoustic guitar and mandolins) – consummate professionals having fun. And it shows in the quality of these songs.
Plant shared production duties with Buddy Miller. And Percy even designed the cover artwork. Does that wrinkled and stained parcel paper background and the feather symbol on the back hint at Led Zep’s last proper studio album – the brown paper bag covered In Through the Out Door and closure? Who knows?
Full track listing:
1. Angel Dance
2. House Of Cards
3. Central Two-O-Nine
4. Silver Rider
5. You Can’t Buy My Love
6. Falling in Love Again
7. The Only Sound That Matters
9. Cindy, I’ll Marry You Someday
10. Harm’s Swift Way
11. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
12. Even This Shall Pass Away
- First Listen: Robert Plant, ‘Band Of Joy’ (npr.org)
- Robert Plant: Band of Joy | CD review (guardian.co.uk)
- Robert Plant and The Band of Joy in London, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Tea and biscuits with Led Zeppelin? (bbc.co.uk)
- Robert Plant, Patty Griffin & Band (Of Joy) played Bowery Ballroom (pics, video, setlist) (brooklynvegan.com)
- Robert Plant: Band of Joy, CD review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Album: Robert Plant, Band of Joy (Decca) (independent.co.uk)