The release of the 2007 Rounder Records album Raising Sand with Alison Krauss marked a new chapter in the life and times of Robert Plant. The album, produced by T Bone Burnett, was wildly successful, selling millions of records and earning both Plant and Krauss five Grammy Awards. The album itself is a masterpiece, a work of art that every music lover should have. The natural talk, of course, was a follow-up album to complement the success. But something must have happened along the way, as Krauss is releasing an album in April 2011 with her band, Union Station, and Plant released the album we're talking about today called Band of Joy co-produced Plant and Buddy Miller.
The album Band of Joy, Plant's second release on Rounder, sees a greater exploration of the genre that is Americana. Indeed, it is tough to put a solid label on any of the tracks on this album. Robert Plant and the back-up band for which the album is named after move effortlessly from track to track exploring different styles of music that ranges from a psychedelic rock sound, to bluegrass, to barroom country. The album's lead track is "Angel Dance", and as this song kept playing, the goose bumps kept coming. This song is one of my favorites on here, and depending on where you were, this cut actually saw some airplay on classic rock stations (thank you 97 Rock, WGRF -FM, Buffalo, NY).
Another solid track is "You Can't Buy My Love", a great rockabilly tune that Plant and backup singer Patty Griffin do a fantastic performance on. "The Only Sound That Matters" sees Plant take his turn at a straight-up, hardcore country song. That man can pull it off in spades.
As I listen to this album, and I'm sure I'll notice it more as I give it more spins, I can't help but think what it must be like for an artist like Robert Plant to have now found a home in this genre, and be so well received. He certainly doesn't need the money, his career longevity speaks for itself. And while you can tell that his days with Led Zeppelin have had an influence on these past two albums, that influence doesn't overpower the place where he seems to be musically today. Where he had to share the stage with Alison Krauss on Raising Sand, the Band of Joy album is all Robert Plant. With this release, Robert Plant shows once again that he's still at the forefront of making great, influential music that will stand the test of time ... much like his work in Zeppelin. A welcome addition to the Americana genre and a well deserved Grammy nomination. Pick this one up folks at your local record store, Amazon, or click on the link above to Rounder Records and buy direct from the record label.