I was hooked from the start. I have already listened to Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar twice in its entirety and thus far it is one of the few albums of which I can sincerely say I enjoy every song. Be forewarned, however: this is not the Plant of hard-rocking Led Zeppelin. Instead, this album is a blend of alternative, folk, Americana, progressive, and world music, a peculiar amalgam of genres, but it works. It is more Battle of Evermore-esque (my favorite Zeppelin song) than Whole Lotta Love-like. Absent is the wailing guitar of Page; the thunderous and formidable drumming of Bonham; the dexterous bass of Jones. This might seem disagreeable to some, but guess what: I don’t miss them and the album doesn’t either. These standards of the rock genre have been replaced by bendirs, banjos, kologos, ritis, and other exotic instruments to create a distinctly West African/alternative inspired sound. Imagine Peter Gabriel, Gordon Lightfoot, and George Harrison got together one day and made an album: this would be the product. Add Plant’s vocals and I’d say you have a recipe for success. Fortunately, Plant acknowledges his strengths and understands his weakness: namely, that his vocals are not what they used to be. You will hear no wailing or screaming; no vain attempt to hit notes out of his range that at this point would make him sound like a man in agony rather than the great vocalist that he is. Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is that I cannot recommend this album highly enough. As someone who appreciates the complexity and diversity of world music and folk, I believe Robert Plant has found his niche, crafting music that is good, true, and beautiful.
Little Maggie: an enjoyable traditional folk song updated with a somewhat “alternative” sound
Embrace Another Fall: somber, haunting, alternative sound with a dash of electric guitar added for good measure
Up on the Hollow Hill: sounds like a softer, eerier version of When the Levee Breaks from IV, featuring a consistent drum and guitar pattern
Arbaden: shortest song on the album; more alternative with a techno-edge, similar in sound to some of Coldplay’s works; features Fulani vocals by Juldeh Camara, a native Gambian
P.S. I also highly recommend Plant’s previous two releases, Band of Joy and Mighty ReArranger.