Carry Fire Carry Fire
Robert Plant’s insistence on forging a solo legacy apart from Led Zeppelin is admirable. Still, his 11th solo album, Carry Fire—which sounds sleepier and more contemplative than 2014’s Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar—bears the unmistakable imprint of the classic rock legends. “The May Queen” pairs sawing stringed instruments and delicate vocals with mystical acoustic riffs, while the title track has a distinct Middle Eastern influence. There’s even a sly Zep lyrical reference in the Velvet Underground-caliber drone “Dance With You Tonight”: “We shared a world forever changing/Through dancing days and wondrous nights.”
Working again with his ace band, the Sensational Space Shifters, Plant delves deeper into world music and folk, with mixed results. The combination of acoustic and electric instruments sounds dynamite on “Bones of Saints,” a twangy roadhouse blues tune on which Plant slithers and wails through pointed sociopolitical commentary. The psychedelic contortions of “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” in contrast, plod despite Chrissie Hynde’s evocative vocal guest appearance. Carry Fire has sparks of inspiration, but not enough to keep the flame burning for an entire album.