No nostalgia trip

Five decades of singing behind him and Robert Plant is obviously giving very little thought to retirement.

On this, his eleventh solo album, he explores the entire span of his diverse and sophisticated musical influences with songs that range from romantic yearnings to dark, poignant statements about the plight of the world. Like most of his modern output, Carry Fire only carries the faintest echoes of his hard rocking days of yore, instead delving into the mystical and the  airy, folk-tinged blues and roots rock that was his greatest influence on the Zeppelin legacy

While the title of gently rocking album opener ‘May Queen’ doffs the hat to his past, Carry Fire is no nostalgia trip. This is Plant very much in the now, yet well in tune with his past, his band the Sensational Space Shifters invoking north African tribal muses and Welsh folk stomp, misty blues and rock. Chrissie Hynde drops in to lend her stylish touch to the deconstructed rockabilly of ‘Bluebirds Over the Mountain’ and ‘Dance With You Tonight’ is joyously upbeat. On ‘Bones of Saints’ he and the band rock out, African instrumentation fills the title track with a mystical warmth so enamoured of artists like Jeff Martin and ‘Carving Up the World Again… a Wall and Not a Fence’ is a world-weary social statement that rings of the zeitgeist.

He doesn’t, of course, let loose with the histrionic abandon of his younger days, but even as he nudges 70, there is still plenty of fire in Robert Plant’s belly.

1. The May Queen
2. New World
3. Season’s Song
4. Dance With You Tonight
5. Carving Up the World Again… a Wall and Not a Fence
6. A Way With Words
7. Carry Fire
8. Bones of Saints
9. Keep it Hid
10. Bluebirds Over the Mountain
11. Heaven Sent