‘Band of Joy’
I, FOR one, am glad Robert Plant turned down a reported $200 million offer to reform Led Zeppelin following their reunion gig in 2007.
If the seminal rock band had reformed, we might not have seen the release of two of the finest albums produced in the intervening period - Plant’s album Raising Sand, released in 2007 with Alison Krauss, and his latest offering, the new release Band of Joy.
Raising Sand went on to win six Grammy Awards, including Grammy for Album of the Year in 2009, and was a masterpiece, Krauss’s delicate and hushed voice intertwining perfectly with Plant’s gruff, often falsetto, timbre.
This album picks up where that left off, but finds Plant with a new band of collaborators, including Nashville legend and guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott - both of whose fingerprints are heavily featured on this album - and country singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, who manages to avoid merely copying Krauss and brings her own individualism to the project.
Band of Joy takes its title from Plant’s first group, formed in the ‘60s, and his decision to resurrect the name burns with symbolism, the former Led Zep frontman allowing the first rate musicians he has assembled to steer him back to his roots, as it were.
The album opens with to the throbbing, groaning guitar lines on an incredibly diverse interpretation of Los Lobos's 'Angel Dance' - a delicate banjo the perfect counterpoint to Plant’s dulcet tones, and the Southern blues of Miller’s guitars.
The bluegrass, brush-drum tones of ‘House of Cards’ follows, the perfect vehicle to demonstrate Plant’s vocals as they twist and turn with Griffin’s softer tones.
The slow-building exhalation of blues-rock that is Low's 'Silver Rider' is one of the most intoxicating offerings on the album, while the upbeat, chugging snarl of the Beatles-influenced ‘You Can’t Buy My Love’ is an eye-opener.
The beautiful swoon of The Kelly Brothers' Sixties soul classic 'Falling In Love Again' and the deliciously vibrant ‘The Only Sound That Matters’, provide a nice balance to the feedback drenched ‘Monkey’, the standout track on the album.
This is a majestic offering from one of rock’s most royal members; a comprehensive reworking of some old standards and classic tunes that is varied, rich and vibrant.
Truly a thing of joy.
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