The world is peppered with musical magpies, musicians who are ever searching, listening out for new, refreshingly interesting rhythms and tones, the next nugget of aural treasure lurking just around the next corner. For most, there might, if lucky, be a sudden awakening, a new discovery that torches the flame once again and pushes them into a challenging new area or zone. But when you’re Robert Plant your pickings tend to produce pearls.
With Plant’s latest offering, ‘Carry Fire’ on Warner/Nonesuch Records, we have an album that ricochets from area to area, never sitting lazily in any one softly sagging musical zone. From the opening track, with its sparkling, up-beat, up-tempo shades of modern blues and Americana, through the scorching passion of the title track to others that are mesmerising at times and haul indefinably intriguing eastern scales and instrumentation into the forefront, this is an album that is instantly disarming and delicious. Plant includes a take on one of his own personal, life-long favourites, the mid-fifties number, ‘Bluebirds Over the Mountain,’ where he shares the vocals with New Yorker and ex-Pretender, Chrissie Hynde.
In short, this is Plant working his balls off with an evident love, interest and immersion in the changing rhythms of the world around him.
Again working with the excellent, wide-ranging and free-thinking Sensational Space Shifters, Plant is clearly in a comfortable place musically, despite the demanding nature of the music he now embraces these days. ‘Carry Fire’ is a release that moves the man, the incredible voice and his music yet another huge step forward, shrugging off any backward-looking thoughts of rockn’roll superbands and Zeppelinesque surety or security. A truly remarkable release from a modern music giant.