The Golden God himself is back with a stunning new album. His first solo album in three years, “Carry Fire” is raw and rhythmically oozing with influences. With help from his backing band “The Sensational Space Shifters” who are sensational, if I do say so myself (no pun intended), they create a well produced album produced by the man himself, Robert Plant. Is there anything that he can’t do?
Eastern influenced, The May Queen tells a beautiful story about new beginnings, love in this instance. Rhythmically the song bounces and make me personally want to dance round a fire in the dark. The song title really interests me the most with this song because it’s a lyric from the iconic Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven.” It’s nice to see Plant still referring to his past and obviously, we should never forget where we came from. The song itself is raw but professional to say the least. Robert’s vocals are breathed like and sensitive. Strong song to start the album off.
“New World…” sounds like something that Plant might have wrote in his early days. The harmonies are tight but simple which is lovely to listen too. If I was to try to categorise this song it would definitely be in the blues genre, but it definitely gives off a world music and also pop like vibe. It’s not a very complex song at all which is great easy listening. At the end of the song we have Robert making these weird chanting like vocals which sound very much like the noises he would make back in the day with his little band – Led Zeppelin.
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than listening to a big folk ballad and “Season’s Song” is definitely that. It really captures Robert’s love for the music with the emotional and pure vocals. Even the backing band are pouring their emotions out with effortless instrumentation. Plant’s influences scatter from all over the decades, and this song fits perfectly in the folk-revival genre of 60’s. I think I really like this song purely because it reminds me of Going To California and we all know how much of a beautiful song that is.
Next we have “Dance With You Tonight” which is a bit cheesy and associated more towards Robert’s pop side. The song is definitely much better with the Sensational Space Shifters creating a big “hip” sound. It’s very modern with all the weird reverses going on throughout the song. The electric guitar tone is rich and heavy. It’s a very straight to the point sound which is great. They don’t just build the song up to nothing, they build until Robert starts singing more confidently. He sure knows how to control his voice, must be because of all the years practice.
“Carving Up the World Again…a wall and not a fence” is well, for starters, a long title. This song is political and a definite punch of attitude to some people in the world. I wonder who? The song itself definitely showcases Plant’s songwriting abilities as the lyrics are just wonderful. The arrangement of the song is natural which is always nice. The song isn’t complex which works well with the complicated lyrics over the top. It gives off a rock & roll kind of atmosphere throughout with Robert’s influences still pouring in.
Psychedelic and haunting are the two words I would describe “A Way With Words.” When the vocals enter with the piano it is really quite creepy and unusual which definitely makes the audience want to hear more. The only thing with this song is how it gets a bit repetitive as it doesn’t really go anywhere. The piano is absolutely stunning and definitely gives the song the lovely sound that it has. Dynamically the song is wonderful and unique.
The title track “Carry Fire” is surely one of the strongest songs on the album. I heard this for the first time when Robert Plant showcased some of his new songs on Jools Holland and the live version is gorgeous. The studio version is almost just as good. There’s always something better about hearing/playing music live cause you get the complete vibe of the artists emotions through expressions. The song has a perfect balance throughout of different genres – folk, rock and eastern music. This song could have actually fitted really well on Plant’s last album, but it’s nice to hear it on this album to make it very versatile.
“Bones of Saints” is harmonically lovely. One of my personal favourites from the album. The mood Plant gives off is screaming with attitude but really warm at the same time, kind of like “please listen to what I’ve got to say.” The instruments are really tight, to be honest throughout the whole album they are, can’t fault the Sensational Shape Shifters at all, they know what they’re doing. The melody is really memorable “I said, no no no, no no no, no no no.” The backing vocals are kind of angelic and make the song so great.
“Keep It Hid” is electronic blues which is really cool. It feels like it’s something that Jeff Beck would write (as in the guitar parts). The instrumentation is great and really strong in that aspect, but I really don’t like how Robert’s phrasing some of his words/notes. It feels like there’s been loads of separate parts of the song just patched together to make this. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to hide? Get it… cause “Keep it Hid“….? I’ll stop now.
The second to last song features the extremely talented, “Chrissie Hynde” of The Pretenders. “Bluebirds Over the Mountain” is actually a cover, the original is a rockabilly song by “Ersel Hickey.” Their vocals blent so nicely together with Chrissie’s vocals being very prominent in the chorus. Plant and Hynde make this experimental version of the song really rock and it surely makes you sway along. Foot tapping goodness!
The last song of the album is eerie and moody. “Heaven Sent” is about a longing to do other things. I completely see where Robert is coming from in this song because I write songs to make me feel better and they do help, until I need to write another song about the exact same thing. It’s the feeling of leaving something unfinished and longing to move onto another topic. The instrumentation in this song is dark and very Radiohead like, which I really like. It’s a bit of a depressing end to an album though and feels a bit sleepy.
Overall a lovely album by Planty, hoping to maybe see some of these songs sometime, especially Carry Fire & Bones of Saints. Looking forward to his next album and the one after that. Rock isn’t dead, it’s just evolved to a different stone…
Score – 7/10
Favourite Tracks: The May Queen, New World, Season’s Song, Carving Up the World Again…a wall and not a fence, A Way with Words, Carry Fire, Bones of Saints, Bluebirds Over the Mountain.