Robert Plant has been surprising us long since Led Zeppelin. As we try to contain our excitement for his show at Hammerstein Ballroom this Friday, there’s no better time to peer into the mystical depths of his latest work, Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar.
Plant’s intricate pivot into worldbeat is just something that needed to happen. But the one-eighty is far from the perfunctory exploration you might expect from a world-weary rocker. He forages the genre for thundering rhythms and sinuous progressions, and doesn’t return until he has exactly what he wants. In this way, it may seem like Plant undertook Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar for his own pleasure. But don’t let his ravenous precision fool you. It’s very much for ours too.
Beginning with his murky arrangement of the Appalachian folk song, “Little Maggie,” Plant seems to take us to a darker side of the misty mountains where he was once, in a past life, really out of his mind. But even in Lullaby’s most cryptic moments, he no longer seems to be. Introspective journeys like “Rainbow,” “Somebody There,” and “House Of Love” are steeped in self-awareness. When he declares “And I will bring my song to you, and I will carry on,” it’s a hymn of his own. He knows who he is, and it doesn’t matter if we ever figure it out.
Even so, there’s a secret struggle in Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar. The name itself trails away with strange contrast, but it’s something more than that. It clings to his words like ivy, giving a mysterious twist to seemingly simple lines like “Pocket full of hearts, a world that’s filled with love.” But wait, is someone collecting many people’s hearts and storing them away? Do our hearts really belong in someone else’s pocket? The interpretations are endless, making the album even more hypnotic.
While jagged songs like “Turn It Up” and “Arbaden (Maggie’s Babby)” will give Zeppelin fans a taste of what they crave, Plant soars in the tender moments in between. Lovelorn confessions like “Here in the heat of a stolen kiss, I make my home,” are entrancingly honest. It can be hard to separate someone as iconic as Robert Plant from his own cemented legacy, but lyrics like this make the first incision.
Robert Plant is so much more than a “former” anything. He’s someone who is forever lost in the music. When he beckons, “Come walk a mile beside me,” it’s clear he wants nothing more than for you to join him there again.
Article: Olivia Isenhart