Album Review: Robert Plant - Band Of Joy

by David Safar

Next to Elvis, Lennon, McCartney, Bowie, Morrison, Dylan and Hendrix, Robert Plant is one of the most recognizable voices in the history of rock'n'roll. Robert Plant could easily refrain from ever releasing another track to the public and avoid the scrutiny of die-hard Zeppelin fans who want nothing more than a re-hashed version of The Battle of Evermore. Instead, Plant continues to take risks and release new music that piques the interest of fans across genres.

Raising Sand, his 2007 collaboration with Allison Krauss, earned five Grammys and was a staple of critics' end-of-the-year lists. There were rumors of a follow-up release from the duo, but supposedly the magic on "Raising Sand" couldn't be re-created.

His latest, Band of Joy, will need a disclaimer — this album is not to be judged by its cover. Yes, like many of Plant's solo releases, the album artwork appears amateurish and dated, and provides no insight on what you should expect when you hit play. However, if you get past the cover art, this album has a distinct sound that must be credited to Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin, who leave their mark on this collection of thoughtful cover songs. Miller and Griffin work to give the album a Nashville sound that complements Plant's voice and style.

Band of Joy does include one original song, co-written by Plant and Miller. "Central Two-O-Nine" fits the album's sonic mold, but lyrically, it leaves much to be desired. Fans of Plant and others will enjoy the highlights of the album, which are Plant's interpretations of Low's "Monkey" and "Silver Rider." Plant's delivery is evenly tempered. Rather than try to impress his personality on these songs, he simply provides a voice, which still maintains the same bold and unique character of his younger years.