Robert Plant’s Solo Album Carry Fire the music burns deep. The music has hidden depths, as layers of tonal shapes and textures interlace with the thoughtful lyrics. Carry Fire is rooted in the earth, ethereal as air, turbulent as water and hot as fire as the four elements encapsulated across the eleven tracks. Joining Plant on his eleventh solo album for the second time are The Sensational Shape Shifters. The tonal range of the album is mellow and fruitful as Plant captures a misty melancholy yearning that is often felt in autumn. The colours are rich and fiery but these soon will fade as the year turns and seasons come and go. The soundscapes are painted that weaves through the tracks shaped by the instruments chosen as the passions wax and wane. Opening Carry Fire, with a jaunty number The May Queen we start off looking forward or back to a different season. The percussive beats hint at dance, light and merriment and surrendering as folk and rock merge at a crossroads of Plant’s own design contemporary and rooted deep in the roots of world folk traditions from North Africa and closer to home. Beguiling leaving you wanting to hear more as we Carry Fire on a journey with the lyrics of Robert Plant once more.
The use of a myriad of instruments on Carry Fire reflects the wealth of tones available to artists like Plant and Steve Hackett’s album Siren Nights earlier this year. Modern folk/roots/rock music is not just guitar led it is strengthened with the tonal complexity of instruments used across the world rooted in the earth creating a fiery musical backdrop. The array of instruments is a reflection of the virtuosity of The Sensational Space Shifters, who are with a selection of the instruments captured on Carry Fire. They are Austin Adams (Guitars, Oud, Percussion & Tambourine) Liam “Skin” Tyson, (Guitars, Dobro, twelve string, pedal steel etc.) John Baggott, (Keyboards, Moog, t’bal, bendir, slide guitar) Dave Smith (bendir, djembe, drums) and joining them are Seth Lakeman (Viola & fiddle) and Albanian Cellist Redi Hasa.
We are on the move, a feeling of urgency with the beating of drums as Plant explores the negativity of colonialism and modern topics that are part of the political, cultural and personal landscapes with nationalism addressed in Carving Up the World Again… A Wall Not A Fence. The beat is frenetic, his voice raised in passionate anger as he spits out the words. The instruments burn and coil around the lyrics, the attention is one-hundred percent on Plant’s impassioned lyrical outpouring. Powerful music for the age.
The title track coalesces around the instruments conjuring a fire in the deep darkness of a desert encampment. Plant once again captures the mood with the depth of lyric and the power of delivery. Deeper and with a sultry edge the younger Plant voice did not deliver. Age has shaped the interpretation of lyrics and music. The traditional North African instruments a song of love and the pain we inflict on ourselves and each other full of wistfulness and hope as Robert sings “I will Carry Fire for you….” Once again the song is rooted in tradition ground deep in the desert sands.
The tonal resonance changes with Bones Of Saints, hard-edged less fusion more rock. On the only cover on the album, Ersel Hickey’s Bluebirds Over The Mountain, Robert Plant is joined by a Chrissie Hynde the vocals reflect the changes in vocal ranges. The play of percussive power and violin adds to the hunger and energy in the number. Closing the album with Heaven Sent, the embers of Carry Fire are fading and the song gently leads us to the closing notes. Seasons turn and we all age. This is a testament to the longevity of Robert Plant who has delivered a beautiful reflective album. The hints of his past musical explorations can be heard as gentle echoes. They never overwhelm Carry Fire an album-defining Robert Plant in 2017.
Robert Plant – Carry Fire – Nonesuch/Warner Bros. Records
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- The May Queen
- New World
- Season’s Song
- Dance With You Tonight
- Carving Up The World Again… A Wall Not A Fence
- A Way With Words
- Carry Fire
- Bones Of Saints
- Keep It Hid
- Bluebirds Over Mountains
- Heaven Sent