Robert Plant

Carry Fire

Nonesuch/Warner Bros

Nov 07, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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At age 69, Robert Plant can still unleash a youthful holler that Tarzan would marvel at. But on his 11th solo album, the golden god is aware that he's in his golden years. At the end of "The May Queen," a cantering acoustic guitar pauses and Plant's voice emerges from the dust to repeat the refrain, "The dimming of my light." Later, the emotionally unguarded singer takes stock of his life on "Heaven Sent." During "A Way with Words," a catch-in-the-throat ballad, he picks at the scars of a past relationship.

That's not to suggest that Carry Fire is a gloomy affair. The colorful music has more global reference points than an issue of National Geographic. On the sultry title track, a trilling oud conjures up images of Istanbul at dusk as Plant enters with the smoldering line, "I sit and wait for you/like so many eyes do." The political protest "Carving up the World Again...a wall and not a fence" features a defiant North African-style guitar solo. Keyboardist John Baggot, a Bristolian colleague of Massive Attack and Portishead, whips up propulsive trip-hop electronica for the inspired vocal pairing of Plant and Chrissie Hynde on "Bluebirds Over the Mountain."

Each of Plant's albums are distinctly different from the others (a tradition that started in Led Zeppelin). On this self-produced triumph, Plant finds fresh ways to present his voice and express his venerable perspective. As he sings, "Out here the fire's still burning/so long into my night." (

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November 8th 2017

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October 31st 2018

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