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Robert Plant - ‘Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar’ (Nonesuch Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Johnny H   
Saturday, 27 September 2014 03:00

Robert PlantSome things just make you feel good about life in general, things like births, marriages, um new Robert Plant records…. and here’s why. There is something self-fulfilling about watching people being happy and successful in what they do (self-actualization is what I think they call it), it’s something that gives you an instant adrenaline buzz, and dare I say it maybe even a tear in the eye, and for yours truly the release of albums like ‘Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar’ are just that type of life affirming event.


Next year marks thirty five years since Robert Plant had the decision to reinvent himself as a solo artiste forced upon him and during the intervening years his albums have touched on everything from Hard Rock to Pop, Country to Blues, Americana to World Music, whilst right now he once again seems enthralled with the wonderment of Folk in all its various permeations. However not without elements of a few of the other genres I’ve mentioned thrown in for good measure. Take lead track ‘Little Maggie’ for example, this track sounds like a traditional Irish Jig played by a Bhangra band whilst the slit eyed yokel from Deliverance plucks away like a madman on his banjo. There would of course be no point in doing all this if it didn’t all gel together to make for an intriguing is somewhat left of centre introduction, and it is Plant’s now more restrained vocal style that is the glue that holds the listener enthralled from the get go. The genre splicing doesn’t stop there either as ‘Embrace Another Fall’ also somehow manages to bring together Abba melodies, African drums, the album’s first and possibly only power chords with Welsh Folk.


It’s all sounds quite surreal doesn’t it, but just like with Plant’s ‘Mighty ReArranger’ record it is the core of musicians that he has assembled around him (many of whom played on both records), and the diversity they bring from their collective musical backgrounds that ultimately helps the visionary frontman get what he is after. If I were to be selfishly critical of one small point with ‘Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar’ it is that the dynamic that many of his previous solo albums have possessed in abundance seems oddly missing here, and as such ‘Lullaby..’ kind of reminds me of ‘Principle Of Moments’ on more than one occasion, largely I think due to its almost subdued pacing and tone. In saying that though ‘Principle’ is also one of my favourite Plant solo albums, it’s just that has had twenty odd years to burrow its way into my head whereas this album is still fresh out of the shrink-wrap.


For ‘Lullaby…’ then think more fiddles and less guitars and you will not enter into it with any false hopes, especially if you are looking for anything even remotely related to his former band. So whilst ‘Pocketful Of Golden’ might pay the faintest of lyrical tributes to the once mighty Led Zeppelin it is ultimately a song steeped in the tradition of Plant’s solo years, built on an Eastern flavoured loop that is not only underpinned by a ‘Principle Of Moments’ type electronic throb but also touches on the majesty of Tie Dye On The Highway’ in its fade out.


Other highlights include the uplifting new single ’Rainbow’ and the electrodub skiffle of ‘Turn It Up’, and I can’t help but raise a wry smile when ‘A Stolen Kiss’ breezes in sounding like a song that was written especially for some long lost David Lynch sequel to Blue Velvet. It’s beautiful yes, but it also has this haunting quality of loneliness and loss about it, something that gets even more harrowing with each repeat listen. The influence of great rock ‘n’ roll singers continues with ‘House Of Love’ another track that has a haunting crooned refrain about it too, but this time it is more Bobby Darin than Rob Orbison.


In the lead up to the release of ‘Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar’ Plant found himself in discussion with Uncut magazine here in the UK, within the extensive interview the singer boldly declared that right now “I celebrate my gift…there’s no point in fucking about and pretending”. Feisty words I’m sure you will agree, but the proof of that point has never been more evident than on ‘Lullaby…. and whilst Robert Plant continues to make music as relevant and richly rewarding as such modern day gems as ‘Somebody There’ and ‘Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur) I for one hope he remains at this level of feistiness for as long as he possibly can.


So, here’s to the future people (there’s no looking back), see you down the front at one of Plant’s November UK shows, where hopefully I’ll be blubbing like a good ‘un.


Life is good…go live it.


To pick up your copy of 'lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar' - CLICK HERE