Tuesday, September 9, 2014

lullaby and... and... and...

Robert Plant's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar, due to hit stores next Tuesday, get's name half right: Lullaby, yes; Ceaseless Roar, not so much. Plant, in fact, as has been his habit for the past 3 to 5 albums, seems to be barely interested in singing. Putting together a band, hanging out with them, giving cryptic interviews, writing songs, he very much seems to enjoy. Singing, however...

Plant is backed by a band of his own creation, The Sensational Space Shifters, and they are solid throughout this album. The album rocks hard, has a pretty balled, some celtic, some folk, and a singer that sings half octave songs at slightly above a whisper. The band deserves better, as do Robert Plant fans shelling out $40 for a deluxe vinyl edition expecting some of that roar the title promises (full disclosure: I shelled out $40).

The album was announced with such promise, Rainbow being released along with the official announcement. The first single, Rainbow is heads and shoulders the best song on the album, and not coincidentally, the one of two songs where Plant stretches his vocals out the most. Read that again and, if you haven't heard any of this album yet, go hear Rainbow, and imagine a world where that is stretching the old vocal chords. That's the sad state of affairs Robert Plant has fallen to.

There's plenty to celebrate in the songwriting, with Turn it Up, Somebody There and Poor Howard all very good. Most people commenting on the album are speaking fondly of the ballad Stolen Kiss, and in fairness, it is Plant's most interesting, and possibly best, vocal on the album. However, that Plant can''t be bothered to come up with melodies any more complex or interesting than Bah Bah Black Sheep for most of the album is disconcerting.

You will read a number of reviews, a number of articles in the next while saying that lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar is Robert Plant finding new horizons, stretching his musical chops or bravely going forward &tc. &tc. It's all a pile of bullocks. If you like what Plant has done the last few albums, certainly since Raising Sand and The Band of Joy, then you will love this. It is easily the best of the three albums. However, if, like me, you haven't particularly enjoyed Robert Plant's forays into trying to impress NPR listeners, then don't, as I have done, throw away $40 on an album you will never bother opening.

--> Tracklist

Little Maggie
Pocketful of Golden
Embrace Another Fall
Turn it Up
A Stolen Kiss
Somebody There
Poor Howard
House of Love
Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)
Arbaden (Maggie's Baby)

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