Robert Plant | Carry Fire

7/10 olden god
Even the briefest of glances at Robert Plant’s new solo album Carry Fire will be enough to give an inkling of where he’s heading on album number eleven. With its title lifted from one his old band’s most iconic songs, opening track “The May Queen” tells us loud and clear that he’s ready to revisit the proto-folk rock tones of Led Zeppelin’s mid 70s heyday. The twangy riff and droning strum pattern even recalls “Friends” from Led Zep III to magnificent, nostalgic effect.
It’s welcome news for fans who loved the Zep stuff but weren’t fully sold on the African tribesman or Lawrence of Arabia personas he’s dipped in and out of over the years. After a long restless solo career, jumping around genres while anxiously trying to step out from the massive Zeppelin shaped shadow, it seems Carry Fire has finally found the middle ground Plant has always been searching for: honouring the spirit of his old band whilst still pushing and experimenting with new sounds and textures.
The one exception is the title track about midway through the album, which bases itself around a tripped out Arabic riff set to throbbing tabla drums; hey old habits die hard I suppose, but even though its no “Kashmir”, it still works here amongst the more standard stuff.
Otherwise it’s rock’n’roll business as usual. The opening act of Carry Fire is the most pleasingly consistent, with the acoustic “Season’s Song” being a particular standout. Elsewhere scattered around the track listing are a few absolute belters that really showcase Plant’s full repertoire, from the jangly rock stylings of “Bones of Saints” to the totally stormsome space-blues “Bluebirds over the Mountain” with Chrissy Hynde duetting.
Speaking of vocals, at 69 his voice has weathered considerably since the earlier stuff, but it remains unmistakable – commanding yet soft, and still capable of that trademark howl when summoned. This is without doubt his best solo work to date, and to see an elder statesman like Plant still rocking at this stage of his career is a wonderful thing indeed.
Dan Ashcroft
Like this? Try these:

Dave Gilmour On An Island
Pink Floyd guitarist goes it solo to stunning effect.

Paul Weller Saturns Pattern
The Modfather back on fine form for album number twelve.

Tom Petty Hypnotic Eye
Magic final album from recently deceased rock icon.

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