Plant’s latest continues strong solo career

Published 6:13 pm Saturday, September 13, 2014

With his 10th solo studio album, Robert Plant reminds fans they’re only getting part of the story if they only see him as the famed singer of Led Zeppelin.

Plant flashes his vocal range on “Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar,” which was released last week. Just don’t go in expecting it to sound like Led Zeppelin.

With the help of his backing band, The Sensational Shape Shifters, Plants embarks on an eclectic, worldly journey.

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Musicians often struggle to establish his career after a famed band, but continues to quietly carve his own path.

At 66, Plant isn’t resting on his laurels and regurgitating Led Zeppelin. In past interviews, he’s talked of not playing Zeppelin songs for several years to move on after the band split following the death of drummer John Bonham.

On “Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar,” Plant leaves the Americana territory of “Raising Sand,” his Grammy-winning collaboration with Alison Krauss.

Still, the opening track, “Little Maggie” — like much of the album — continues on an eclectic path, blending in fiddles with more modern drums.

While other singers of his generation have given way coarse, growly vocals, Plant’s voice has taken on richer tones, but much of that is simply singing style. In interviews, Plant has credited Krauss with helping him expand his vocal style.

However, “Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar” yields pleasant flashbacks to Plant’s Led Zeppelin singing style. Midway through “Little Maggie,” Plant’s wailing vocals break in — sounding almost identical to his 1970s prime. But for the most part, Plant is content to sing in a methodical, almost a whispering voice.

Subtle, driving drums propel the album forward behind the pleasant-sounding “Rainbow,” before the music takes on a touch of Moroccan inspirations on songs like “Pocketfull of Golden.”

“Turn It Up” may be the closest Plant comes to Zeppelin-esque, as the wailing vocals play hauntingly across the track, but the distorted guitars don’t take off for the many fan’s expecting Jimmy Page guitar riffs.

At times, the album loses its early momentum in overly ambient moments, but Plant regains the momentum by revisiting the stylings and some lyrics from “Little Maggie” on the closing track “Arbadan.”

Plant continues to make a strong case for fans to pay attention to his post-Zeppelin career. But the statement he makes here isn’t as loud or strong as his classic band, and the style may be lost on avid “Raising Sand” fans. However, it’s still a strong chapter in a storied career.