NPR logo First Listen: Robert Plant, 'Band Of Joy'

First Listen: Robert Plant, 'Band Of Joy'

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Robert Plant's album is full of old-school rock, folk and blues, but it sounds fresh and expertly played. Gregg Delman hide caption

toggle caption Gregg Delman

Robert Plant's album is full of old-school rock, folk and blues, but it sounds fresh and expertly played.

Gregg Delman

After 40 years of making records, Robert Plant still has the integrity I heard on the very first Led Zeppelin record in 1969. Not many artists fit that bill. It speaks not only to his uncommon and unrivaled voice, but also to his choice of musicians and influences.

Plant's collaboration with Alison Krauss a few years ago produced a brilliant and timeless record in Raising Sand. Now, Plant has teamed up with Nashville songwriter, musician and friend Buddy Miller to make a new album called Band of Joy. The musicians include some of his bandmates from the Krauss tour, including Miller on guitar and various stringed instruments, as well as Darrell Scott and Patty Griffin.

Band of Joy is a celebration of music, and often music from the '60s — a decade where the blues, country, Celtic and rock all found common ground. Its rock, folk and blues tunes aren't new, but they all sound fresh and incredibly well-played. That's evident from the first guitar burst on a Los Lobos tune called "Angel Dance."

There's restraint here that you wouldn't often hear on Led Zeppelin albums, but there's also power in that restraint. That discipline and prudence brings a feeling of welled-up emotion, of sadness and joy that unfolds brilliantly in the ears of the listener. This isn't the hammer of the gods; just a decent gut punch that's profound, earnest and perhaps even longer-lasting.

Band of Joy will stream here in its entirety until its release on Sept. 14. Please leave your thoughts on the album in the comments section below.

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