Band of Joy
Robert Plant’s first album since Raising Sand, 2007’s Grammy-winning collaboration with Alison Krauss, deepens his probe into Americana. It doesn’t hook immediately — instead it insinuates. Band of Joy is a largely dark, haunting record. Produced wide and raw by Plant and Buddy Miller, the guitar ace who gave Sand much of its character, it features wild music (“Monkey”), some murky music (“Monkey,” again), a preoccupation with end times (the spare, rippling “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down”), and inspired covers of songs by Los Lobos, Richard Thompson, and Townes Van Zandt. At 62, Plant is no longer comfortable with the higher registers of his voice, but he can still howl and croon (check out the mesmerizing “Silver Rider” and “Even This Shall Pass Away”). Not as accessible as Led Zeppelin, Band of Joy strikes a weird, original balance between the folk strains Plant twisted on Sand and Led Zeppelin III's hard-rock pastoral. —Carlo Wolff
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