“I respect and relish my past works but each time I feel the lure and incentive to create new work. I must mix old with new.” That’s Robert Plant’s mission with his latest solo effort, entitled Carry Fire. I’ve always admired his conscious decision to make whatever kind of album he wants to.
Essentially, it picks up where Lullaby and…the Ceaseless Roar left off. Dialling further into the folk direction, he has a solid band backing him in the shape of The Sensational Space Shifters but you’re going to be listening to this because it’s Robert Plant. For the most part, it’s a sombre record but it has its up-tempo moments in the shape of opener “The May Queen” and “Bones of Saints”. Meanwhile there’s the Middle/Far East tones on the album’s title track, conjuring up images of bazaars followed by the funky afore-mentioned “Bones of Saints”.
That aside, even on the afore-mentioned upbeat numbers, the album has a hypnotic, calming feeling which envelops you. It makes for some perfect background music but at the same time, it captures your attention, pulling you in. “A Way With Words” highlights this to its full extent with its soothing tones. It feels like a lullaby or a stroll through a forest in the afternoon sun; an antithesis to the scathing indictment which is “Carving Up the World Again…A Wall and Not a Fence”.
Throughout, Plant is in fine vocal form as he wails through his lyrics and you get the sense from his delivery that he’s fully enjoying what he’s doing. The Sensational Space Shifters sound more sure-footed with a general sense of the band and style coming into its own.
Carry Fire isn’t going to be for everyone. If you like something a bit different by a recognisable name, you’ll enjoy this. If you want something with a soothing theme to it, look no further. Plant is defying his age with his vocals, portraying a sense that he could do this until he drops.
Carry Fire is out now