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Carry Fire can be divided in two sections: The more upbeat, rocky side of Robert Plant and the more serene, peaceful side of the same artist. Indeed, half of the work—generally, the more downtempo songs—feels reflective. Plant sings of sadness and intimacy, and frequently wraps up such emotions in melancholy devices. That the record serves as a soulful reminder of how inimitable Plant remains shouldn’t come as a surprise.
The title track opens with a dose of old-world mysticism reminiscent of a number of classic Zeppelin cuts. Instrumental layers abound and slowly blend their way to a climatic finish. Another favorite, the dark and intimate “Keep It Hid,” features a terrific drum track and guitar effects that shine in proportion to the size of your stereo system. Now 69 years old, Plant still rocks it, yet thankfully, avoids any temptations to scream even as the music occasionally calls for it. His backup band, the Sensational Space Shifters, complements the arrangements by performing with incredible synergy. The only nitpick? The harder, denser songs aren’t recorded as well as the slower cuts. No matter: Carry Fire functions as a hi-fi monster—which is to say, play it big and play it loud.
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