Monday, September 1, 2014

Robert Plant: lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar Preview

On Saturday night the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) premiered Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifter's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. Ten days ahead of the release of this much anticipated work, here's first listen thoughts:

  • Little Maggie: previously heard, Little Maggie is a traditional song that Plant offers in with a mix of Appalachian/ Celtic influences, creating a song that feels both old, and somewhat new.

  • Rainbow: "What do you think of the new Robert Plant?" Steve "the Lemon" Sauer asked me when I saw him the night after his wedding in July. "I really like it," he added. He was talking about Rainbow, previously released, and the more I listen to it, the more I agree with him

  • Pocketful of Golden: Another previously released song, Pocketful of Golden hints at an Indian sound, but with Plant's uniquely understated vocal delivery which we've heard much of the past ten or so years. Despite Plant's playing this one safe, it's an interesting piece.

  • Embrace Another Fall: Much like Band of Joy, this album seems determined to run in one gear, and by the fourth song it is getting old. Loved the first three, now I'm asking, no begging, for Plant to reach outside their comfort zone for just one bar. Alas... Wait, the guitars kick in for a solid rocking bridge. It's not much, not too much at least, but it at least stretches the limits a touch.

  • Turn it Up: I liked the minute plus snippet of this you got on iTunes a month ago. The band is hot on this, Plant stays well inside his comfort zone. One does wish...

  • A Stolen Kiss: The pretty piano ballad, and the song that provides the titular lyric. Very pretty, and a song that is likely to improve with repetition.

  • Somebody There: In a previous post, I referred to this song as one I could grow to like a lot, with it's infectious pop feel. It's actually less pop than the preview suggested it might be, but maybe a better song.

  • Poor Howard: Poor Tom with a banjo? I'm not sure what to make of Poor Howard, except to say I enjoyed it.

  • House of Love: Again, this is a case of good song, but really, do I need a full album of the same melody in the same key? Surrounded by a bunch of talented musicians, can not one of them tell Plant to mix the vocals up, just a little? Can not one of them say, "for fuck sake, change it up."

  • Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur): Oh wait, a boring song... just what this album needs... (places gun in mouth, pulls trigger).

  • Arbaden (Maggie's Baby): Sigh... it's midnight, I have no idea how this one ends because there must be something better I have to do.

As with Band of Joy, Alison Krauss, and Plant's two previous albums with more-or-less this outfit, Plant eschews any vocals outside a very limited range. Unlike the Band of Joy, he's surrounded himself with musicians who are up to the challenge of being interesting when Plant isn't. It's a better album, but boy could it use a singer who's worthy of the band.

Bottom line is, if you've been paying attention, outside of possibly A Stolen Kiss, you've heard everything you need to hear on this album when you heard Rainbow a month ago.

I am left with only one question... is it too late to cancel my pre-order?


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