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Robert Plant: lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar

by Jeff Tamarkin on September 05, 2014

“And if the sun refused to shine,” the very first line of “Pocketful Of Golden,” the third song on Robert Plant’s new release—his first since 2010’s Band Of Joy—is, of course, a deliberate nod and a wink to Led Zeppelin, whose “Thank You” begins with those very same words. But where the Zep tune—the first that Plant wrote all of the lyrics for—unfolds into one of Plant’s most unabashed love songs (“I would still be loving you” follows that opening gambit), “Pocketful Of Golden” is emblematic of something that, over the course of lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, often feels coyly evasive and wrapped in mystery—even when it isn’t. “I’m lost inside America,” Plant sings on “Turn It Up.” “I’m turning inside out, I’m turning into someone else I heard so much about.”

It’s tough to be a rock legend— people want you to go back in time and recreate what came before, to remain who you were when you first impacted them, never mind that you’re not that person anymore. But it’s no surprise at all, and ultimately easy to understand—as the arid African desert-blues, deep-roots Americana, jittery electronic squalls and other-worldliness of exotic instruments with unpronounceable names wash over you—why Plant outright dismisses the notion of a Zep reunion. lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, passing lyrical reference aside, crooned politely and sometimes not by a man whose lust for the new remains unabated—its constant splash of sensations and hues ever-enveloping—is largely over the hills and far away from what once was. It’s every bit as 2010s as Zeppelin was 1970s.

Produced by Plant and featuring his current band, the Sensational Space Shifters (some of whom he’s worked with for some time now), lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar is a pastiche, finding inspiration in Mali and Massive Attack, in Appalachia and trance, and beyond. Save for “Poor Howard,” a polyrhythmic, neo-rockabilly jig updating Lead Belly, most of group receives credit for each of the album’s 11 tracks. It’s that team effort that gives it its collage-like, hybrid, global personality. An inveterate experimenter whose hunches have mostly proven prescient through the post-Zep years, Plant simply revels and exults in the richness, breadth and promises of sound itself. And lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar is a fountain of it.

Authors: Jeff Tamarkin
Artist: Robert Plant
Album: lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar
Label: Nonesuch/Warner Bros.