Robert Plant, Band of Joy

Dan Epstein

By Dan Epstein

on 04.06.11 in Reviews

Band of Joy

Robert Plant
Radiating the joy of like-minded souls making beautiful songs

The many questions and reservations swirling around Robert Plant's latest solo venture — Why no Led Zeppelin reunion tour? What happened to the Raising Sand sequel he was going to do with Alison Krauss? Why the hell is he covering two Low songs? — swiftly dissipate once you actually give the enchanting Band of Joy a spin. Comprised of covers from such disparate sources as Los Lobos ("Angel Dance"), Richard & Linda Thompson ("House of Cards"), Lightnin' Hopkins ("Central Two O Nine"), obscure Memphis soulsters The Kelly Brothers ("Falling In Love Again") and the aforementioned Low ("Silver Rider," "Monkey,"), Band of Joy's material is unified chiefly by the album's impressively sympathetic cast of musicians (including singer Patty Griffin and multi-instrumentalist Buddy Miller), its organic but cobweb-free production (courtesy of Plant and Miller), and Plant's vibrant and expressive vocal performances. The old golden god is clearly in excellent vocal health, but he also sounds like he's having an absolute blast reinterpreting these songs. Even in its more despairing moments (like the atmospheric reading of Townes Van Zandt's "Harm's Swift Way"), Band of Joy does indeed palpably radiate the joy of like-minded souls making beautiful (and occasionally daring) music together. By now, Plant has more than earned the right to indulge his inner music geek with albums like this; happily for the rest of us, Band of Joy is as fun to listen to as it sounds like it was to make.