Robert Plant: Carry Fire

Robert Plant
Carry Fire

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You might get a hint of good old Led Zep on Robert Plant’s 11th studio album, Carry Fire. Yes, he is employing the Sensational Space Shifters band here (Plant has worked with them for the past few years). Their folk, Celtic, Indian, and West African soundscapes rise to the forefront on this album, but from the opener, “May Queen,” (the title an obvious nod to one of Zep’s more famous songs) one is reminded of the Robert Plant of yore even with his softer vocal delivery.

Plant takes on lots of weighty issues lyrically, while staving off wailing with his infamous pipes. “New World,” has him picking at Brexit, and “Carving Up the World Again… A Wall Not a Fence” (an obvious nod to Trump) sees the most up front electric guitar playing on the album in a rockabilly send up where Plant gets to moan almost as he did in the old days.

The title track is the centerpiece, the Sensational Space Shifters letting go with their particular brand of fire, the fiddle coming to take lead. The most interesting sounding song though is the cover of “Bluebirds Over the Mountain.” With a backing of deep metal machine-like undulations mixed with distorted guitar it sounds as if Nine Inch Nails entered the proceedings. Plant duets with Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) over the concoction, but despite the instrumental intrigue, the vocal performances from both singers aren’t notable here.

Carry Fire will take a few listens, it’s that layered and Plant is staying a good distance from things. You’ll be both reminded of some older Plant and introduced to some new.

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