When asked about the meaning behind the title of his latest record ‘Lullaby…And The Ceaseless Roar’, Robert Plant’s answer was simple. “It’s life,” he said.
What is first seen as a painfully vague answer to a more demanding question is later illuminated by context. A fully engaged fascination with world travel has loosened the creative strings around Plant’s mind and has led him down a path paved with hypnotic rhythms and exotic scales.
Particularly interested in the musical roots indigenous to the north of Africa, ‘Lullaby…And The Ceaseless Roar’ is in many ways impossible to pigeon-hole into Western genres. Its diversity stretches from folk and bluegrass influences on album opener Little Maggie to the almost tribal characteristics of Pocketful of Golden.
Let’s be clear. There is no hint of self-indulgence here. The musical integrity of the record is still very much intact and its quality has not been in any way compromised for the sake of stylistic diversity. ]
Plant’s vocals sound as good as ever and the Sensational Space Shifter’s are a well-oiled musical machine. His fearless roaming on the fringes of the musical norm has enhanced its originality while simultaneously challenging the listener.
All of these factors perhaps come together best on the album’s lead single Rainbow. Opening with a drumbeat no doubt inspired by somewhere on the periphery of our cultural world, the song contains some simple, yet poignant lyrics from Plant, framed by a beautiful, almost haunting melody. It is a prime example of the point where a creative odyssey and solid musicianship meet.
Also particularly worthy of mention is the yearning ballad A Stolen Kiss. Stripped of the more otherworldly characteristics found elsewhere on the album, it is a simple and uncompromising piano-centred track with a very palpable honesty flowing through it. “How long has it been like this/ Lost and found and lost yet again/ Here in the heat of a stolen kiss/ I make my home”, he sings.
One must offer credit where credit is due. At the age of 66 Plant has displayed remarkable musical versatility coupled with a sincere disinterest in cashing in on what is, by all accounts, one hell of a legacy. This album can stand very proudly on its own merits. Addressing the past he once said that he cannot be any of the guys he was before and he had to evolve to get through. And that, as he would say, is life.