On his new album Mighty Rearranger
, Robert Plant puts on an audio pageant right out of a Marrakesh ashram. Stilly fully embodying the hippie vibe that took him to soaring heights as the front man for arena rock gods Led Zeppelin, the soaring singer doesn’t venture too far from his original formula. But after all, if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. And, there is nothing that is “broke” or outdated about the kind of music Plant has made and still is making.
Starting in the 1960s, Eastern meditations and enchanted tales about wise gurus finally seeped into Western culture. Today, there is still a thriving interest in the subculture and Plant remains an energetic spokesperson for the movement. The opening track off of Mighty Rearranger called “Another Tribe” instantly employs the mystical sitar sound as Plant revs up his usual trippiness with chants about the “meek inheriting all the earth”.
He may be on a spiritual quest for enlightenment, but rock icon is well aware that utopia is probably a myth as he searches for “paradise beneath a smoking gun”.
The song “Freedom Fries” finds Robert Plant getting a little more modern and lot more political. His cocky wry attitude is perfect here as he puts just the slightest ironic twist on the phrase “freedom fries”. “I’ll give and take to satisfy my needs” he sings and while the statement could have easily fit Plant’s old band years ago, he delivers the biting blow to the U.S. elite this time – and it lands with a good amount of sting.
“Tin Pan Valley” uncovers a new side of Robert Plant. He and his Led Zep bandmates were the kings of excess in their days, but he seems to have grown past all of that and developed a taste for the simpler things in life. It’s good to hear a seminal rocker like Plant get a little more personal as he speaks directly about himself on lyrics such as “I live on former glory, so long ago and gone.”
It’s true that even though he (along with Jimmy Page) were the best known members of Zep, their solo careers haven’t taken them to the same heights. Plant seems to be at peace with the fact though and is happy to make music on his own terms, shunning the more plastic aspects of the typical “rock star” life.
For those who appreciated the quieter side of Led Zeppelin, Plant offers up “All the Kings Horses”. It’s quiet, meditative love song that puts the singer’s now slightly weary voice to good use. Plant spent years bellowing and belting for his mega-selling 1970s band so it’s no surprise that he takes it a bit easier vocally on some of the tracks. He brings it all home towards the end though with a powerful rendering of the oh so groovy title track “Mighty Rearranger” a vibe-heavy song about the an all knowing all seeing guru.
Mighty Rearranger finds Robert Plant settled comfortably in his own skin. He’s spent a lifetime developing his persona and he inhabits it well. The grooves and mysticism that he built with Led Zeppelin are just far enough away to make him a strong solo force, but yet his old-time fans will never be able to say that he’s completely turned his back on them. Robert Plant might not be forging any new roads with Mighty Rearranger, but after all, the path he’s on is already solid enough.