tue 24/10/2017

CD: Robert Plant - lullaby and The Ceaseless Roar | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Robert Plant - lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar

CD: Robert Plant - lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar

"Percy" is in mystical form, but can he do it with dignity?

Plant retains one of the most distinctive voices of any singer alive

A fleetingly interesting exercise with this album is to try and imagine it as an instrumental record. Would it pass muster for its high production values and neat fusions of Celtic folk, bluegrass, West African sounds, blues, prog, some U2 widescreen action and a little bit of Nineties mainstream electronica? Or would it just seem like glib, WOMAD-tastic fusion, or perhaps the sort of thing that successful session musicians might fling together to soundtrack a high-class travel documentary?

There's no question it's exquisitely mixed and structured, and there are certain instrumental breaks, like when the pure sound of the strings play off against guitar distortion in the coda to "Embrace Another Fall" where the sound is intensely moving in and of itself.

It's a moot point, of course, because no matter how hard you try, while you're listening it's impossible to tune out THAT voice. At 66, Robert Plant is not howling like a banshee on a regular basis any more – though by all accounts on the live stage he can still belt it out when he needs to – but he retains one of the most distinctive tones of any singer alive, and even at his most subdued, as on the trip hop blues of "Up on the Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)" where he practically whispers, there's a caged-tiger power to every note. And THAT voice brings everything to life.

Clean production that could seem sterile in the hypothetical instrumental version becomes a framework for Plant to swing from, creep round, bask in; every bit of the groove is brought to life by his presence, and the involved mysticism of his lyrics sounds seductive rather than silly. It's no mean trick.

The involved mysticism of his lyrics sounds seductive rather than silly

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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