By Mariko Margetson – 5/5 Dragons
Simply put, Robert Plant is a musical genius and his newest album Carry Fire is a demonstration of said genius. The eleven song collection is a divine infusion of abstract musings, poignant observations, ethereal sounds, and tribal rhythms guided by Plant’s omnipotent transmission of emotion.
I thought I was listening to Led Zeppelin halfway through the first track, May Queen, a pulsing, guitar-driven reference to a lyric from Stairway to Heaven. An echo, it seemed. In fact, the entire album is outlined in echoes. Echoes not only of Robert Plant’s own past experiences but of the world in different times and places. May Queen conveys a warmth that in some ways helps to set the overall mood for the album as one of waking from a deep sleep and welcoming in a new season.
The album in its entirety is like the musical equivalent of an impressionist painting where every track is a brush stroke of a larger piece of work that is both beautiful and slightly out of focus. A singular expression unto itself. Even the title Carry Fire seems to suggest a detachment from Plant’s past. We use the expression on fire to describe someone who seems larger than life, like the lead singer in the world’s most influential rock band. But to carry fire requires wisdom, an innate knowledge of how to balance elements of the spiritual, emotional and inevitable so as to illuminate.
For the most part, Carry Fire is a subtle affair. Yet, every note and every beat has a purpose. From the jangly guitar chords and foot stomping beats of New World to the tender, heartfelt ballad Dance With Me Tonight, or the vocal commentary and tribal beats of Carving up the World Again, Robert Plant and his band the Sensational Space Shifters weave a vivid tapestry of sounds that fill the spaces between Plant’s ethereal vocals.
Highlights for me include Bluebirds over the Mountain, a psychedelic take on an old rock-a-billy classic from Ersel Hickey. The remake features the vivid vocal prowess of legendary Chrissy Hynde with Plant’s own rich tones to help give the song a lift. Literally. If the songs were colors, this would be a shade of blue – perhaps teal or cobalt, while the rest of the album spans warmer hues of reds, magentas, and gold.
A Way With Words also stood out to me for the way its minimalistic sound enveloped Plant’s malty vocal tones in the lower register. A burning ember, softly glowing around the edges. Another aspect of fire that must be explored if one wishes to carry it for any length of time.
As with every single album in Robert Plant’s fifty-year career, Carry Fire is worth adding to your collection. It’s one you are likely to play over and over again and find something new to love about it with every listen.
ROBERT PLANT & THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS
CARRY FIRE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2018
9 – Raleigh, NC – Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
11 – Charlotte, NC – Ovens Auditorium
12 – Norfolk, VA – Chrysler Hall
14 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
16 – Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre
17 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
20 – Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre
22 – Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre
24 – Denver, CO – Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre
26 – Phoenix, AZ – Symphony Hall
28 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
2 – Los Angeles, CA – Orpheum Theatre