Robert Plant’s :Lullaby… And The Ceaseless Roar”- a review by John The Rock Doctor

LULLABY… AND THE CEASELESS ROAR Robert Plant (Nonesuch/ Warner Bros.) *****This is Robert Plant’s first studio album since 2010’s Band of Joy, and the first he’s written lyrics for since 2005’s Mighty Rearranger. Always a restless musical spirit, Plant has conjured a charming and deep collection of songs, influenced by Arabic scales, Trance, the West African and blues music he loves so much, aided and abetted by his band The Sensational Shape Shifters- like-minded souls chosen from some of the most interesting collectives in contemporary UK pop music.“The whole impetus of my life as a singer has to be driven by a good brotherhood” Robert says. “I have been around awhile and I ask myself, do I have anything left to say? Is there still a song inside me? In my heart?”  The answer, apparently, is a resounding yes.  According to a couple of video vignettes on his facebook page, his return to the Welsh highlands and an introspective desire to examine his life and express gratitude is what made song writing important to him again.Lullaby… And The Ceaseless Roar (the title is a line from the song A Stolen Kiss) is perhaps the place Plant has been looking for since his left turn in 2007, when he recorded the Grammy award winning Raising Sand with Alison Krauss.  The album in between, Band of Joy is equidistant, I think, between Sand and Roar.  “I see life and what’s happening to me” he says. “Along the trail there are expectations, disappointments, happiness, questions and strong relationships… and now I’m able to express my feelings through melody, power and trance; together in a kaleidoscope of sound, colour and friendship.”  Stylistically the new album is left of center to the two that preceded it, and not likely to come within a whiff of the sales figures of his old band- and we both know who I’m talking about- but Robert, like Neil Young, is making the music that is on his heart and mind, and that is a mighty thing.Lullaby’s mostly gentle melodies invite you in to contemplate the various roads life takes, alongside Plant & The Shape Shifters. The mix of pop song craft with Celtic, West African and Arabic elements is particularly intoxicating- as I listen to the album for the 4th time today (it’s Saturday as I write this, yard work has been done and lunch eaten) I can feel this music urging me along in different spiritual directions too.  The song A Stolen Kiss is the centerpiece of the album for me, not just because it appears about halfway through, but there’s an urgently introspective quality to it that recalls melodically (for me at least) Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, reinforced by a particularly mournful piano chord and Plant’s quietly soulful vocal- it’s really quite breathtaking.Lullaby… And The Ceaseless Roar, due out Sept.9th, is a celebration of life and everything that means, heartbreak included with the joy- it makes us who we are.  As much as I have enjoyed all of Robert Plant’s solo work, the songs themselves as well as the overall journey he’s undertaken to find out who he really is, along with his cheerful insistence to make the music he wants as opposed to songs aimed at the top of the charts, this record is the deepest, most soulful and most satisfying collection of songs he has released yet.  Everything else, including his adventures with Led Zeppelin, have been leading up to this moment.  Well done, sir.HIGHLIGHTS:  A Stolen Kiss, Rainbow, Poor Howard (a remake of an old Leadbelly song)

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