Beware, dear reader, in the coming days we are emerging in old stuff. Musicians come by who started their respective careers in the 60s and are still around. Some with old, but newly released work, others with brand new songs. There's one constant: the quality is extremely high.
The quality of Carry Fire is everything what I have come to expect from Robert Plant and the musicians he works with, The Sensational Space Shifters. There are absolutely no complaints here. In fact, in my opinion Carry Fire is exactly what Led Zeppelin might have sounded like, now all the musicians of the band still alive are in or are approaching their 70s. All the elements, bar the classic (blues)rock are there. Folk, eastern and Moroccan influences and traces of the rock the classic rock band infused in its music. The blues is gone but Plant introduces some 60s pop into the whole.
Fact is that Carry Fire sounds so full of ambition. The artistic fire is burning brightly, even after nearly 50 year in the music business. In my review from 2014 (read here: https://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/10/lulleby-and-ceaseless-roar-robert-plant.html?m=0) I wrote that I guessed that Plant didn't want a reunion tour with his old band, just because of that. It would waiste time for the things he really wanted to do: create new music, where Jimmy Page is in a reminiscing mood for the past three decades.
The only complaint one can have of Carry Fire is its lack of originality. And then the music on Carry Fire kicks in. Robert Plant's voice is over-familiar. It may be more that fact, than the music on the album. Despite the fact that there are several familiar sounding tunes and sounds, the production is modern and even takes a jazzy, triphop, folk turn in a song like 'Keep It Hid'. There's no holding back on trying to be influential, even after all these years, here. And that is something that goes for more songs on the album. Robert Plant is still grooving with the best of them. Just listen to what happens to the late 1968 The Beach Boys hit 'Bluebirds Over The Mountain'. And don't I recognize Chrissie Hinde's voice there in the duet? Besides the vocal melody there is nothing helping me towards the original song. So much is going on at the same time. Classic rock (drumming), modern sounds, an Irish fiddle, folk, eastern sounds. A hodgepodge making up for a great cover.
The opening song has a title that points directly to things past. 'The May Queen' features in 'Stairway To Heaven' of course. The acoustic guitars reference many a folk song played by Led Zeppelin. Without a doubt Robert Plant is catering his fans of old here. Without ever touching on the hardest rock and blues side of the band, Plant is graciously dealing with his heritage. That is the only thing that could be seen as negative about Carry Fire, it leans on things past. The music no longer holds any form of danger. The quality of the music on the album outweighs any inhibitions as mentioned just now. If one could dream of a new Led Zeppelin album Carry Fire would come close. Without any forced ways of trying to find new riffs that may just no longer be there in their forté.
Robert Plant again comes up with a beautiful album that not only does right to his past, but makes him as relevant an artist as one can be at 69. His voice still contains that characteristic lightness that made it him stand out in the past. The pace of the songs befit his age and all, without a single exception, hold a level of quality that makes the singer shine. I already liked the previous album, 'Lullaby And ... The Ceaseless Roar'(2014), I may come to like Carry Fire even better. I can't find a single fault.
You can listen to 'The May Queen' here: