Robert Plant proves he was no dilettante when it came to delving into roots music. Of course, he grew up on the blues, but reached a very different crowd last time out with the highly successful "Raising Sand" with Alison Krauss. The bluegrass diva is not around this time, but a bunch of other key players are, and the result is a bit denser set more rootsy than country.
That doesn't mean the dozen songs here are any worse for wear. In fact, Plant has another stellar disc on his hands.
Sonically, there is more of a brooding quality. That is evident from the leadoff Angel Dance of Los Lobos to You Can't My Love, first recorded in 1965 by Barbara Lynn R&B style. Plant gets soulful on Falling in Love Again. Plant is not one these days to overdo it vocally - not once are there any vocal histrionics. In fact, he tends towards softer, more airy vocals with a voice that has aged very well.
Plant is very ably backed by his touring band - the excellent Patty Griffin on vocals, Buddy Miller on guitar, who also produced, Byron House on bass, Darrell Scott on acoustic guitar and mandolin and pedal steel and Marco Giovino on drums.
Plant veers towards the country side a few times.
He tackles the traditional American folk song Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday, and does justice to since he's a big fan of folk music anyway. With Griffin on backing vocals, he pushes along Townes Van Zandt's final composition, Harm's Swift Way. Plant also does a bluesy take on the Louvin Brothers-identified Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down.
While Plant and Miller arranged three of the songs, they only wrote one, Central Two-O-Nine, spearheaded by Scott's banjo.
Plant deserves a lot of credit for not being one and done. Once again, Plant shows he is all about the music.