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A rhinoceros in the room,
This review is from: Band Of Joy [Digipack] (Audio CD)What's a man to do when he's close to the age of retirement? Unless he's an unreconstructed workaholic with the boredom threshold of an eight year old he probably hopes for the time to pass quickly between now and when he can retire. But when you're someone fortunate enough to make a living out of what you enjoy doing the rules are rather different.
If you're Robert Plant you've always got the option of doing a handful of gigs a year with your old band but -bless him- he's not one for nostalgia even if there are legions out there who are. No, what he goes and does is get himself such a potent dose of dark Americana that he can ignore the lure of the metaphorical rhinoceros in the room that is that (still) popular beat combo Led Zeppelin, and then he goes and puts it on record.
This probably accounts for why `Silver Rider' is as euphorically melancholic as anything you care to name. While the guitars might be overdriven there's no striving for effect, and in that regard they simply follow Plant's vocal example.
Wasn't "Cindy (I'll Marry You Someday)" once beloved by chunky sweater-wearing types? Well even if it was through Plant's alchemy it becomes something else. Again his vocal is understated and a damn sight more in tune with the lyric than it was in what some would probably describe as his pomp.
He's got his way with what was once called driving music too, as exemplified by Townes Van Zandt's "Harm's Swift Way" which despite its title is one of the most upbeat things on the album. Plant and Patty Griffin don't sing harmonies so much as they coax less than obvious implications out of the lyric, while the band ducks and weaves in the manner of the most graceful middleweight.
So overall it's a damn sight more than all good. It's an example of a man doing just as he pleases with zest and a restless spirit. The world would be a much more interesting place if more of his contemporaries could manage the same.