BAND OF JOY by Robert Plant (Rounder)
Robert Plant’s late-career detour into string-flecked Americana has come as a surprise—especially to die-hard Zep fans who just want to hear him wail on “Immigrant Song” until he takes the stairway to heaven. But Plant’s new path is well chosen, having yielded the elegantly rustic Raising Sand with Alison Krauss and now its like-minded successor, Band of Joy. Covering songs by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Richard Thompson, and Low, Plant is a master at deploying his character-soaked pipes with a newfound subtlety and vigor.
This article first appeared in the January-February 2011 issue of Utne Reader.