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Lazy shorthand would have you believe that, despite the absence of Alison Krauss, Band Of Joy is to all intents and purposes Raising Sand, part two. However, while both albums clearly share a template, Plant’s latest is further-reaching in both its investigations of America’s rich musical heritage and its sonic ambition.
It’s the sound of Plant returning to a well-thumbed encyclopaedia but paying more attention to the smallprint footnotes. As tempting as a big bucks Zeppelin reunion might have been (not that he needs the cash), Plant has instead chosen to stretch his creative muscles and look further back in time than the halcyon days of the rock legends who made his name.
Few artists in their early 60s have ever sounded so hungry, so engaged, so enthused by music, and while the jury may still be out on whether Band Of Joy is a better album than Raising Sand, it is certainly no less of a triumph.
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