Ramblin’ man Robert Plant putting down roots in U.K.
NASHVILLE — Robert Plant has been a lifelong rambler with almost no interest in returning home to Great Britain. These days, though, he’s as snug as a hobbit in his hole in his native country after returning to record his latest album, and he doesn’t plan on changing his home base soon. “I’m back,” Plant said in a recent phone interview from his home along the Welsh border. “My dog is curled up in the sunlight here in the late afternoon and it’s a beautiful day. It’s a beautiful place to be. All the flowers are at maximum full boost.” Plant is also returning to musical territory he long ago left behind for the songs on Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar, his ninth solo studio album. It’s his first work in years that includes material he mostly wrote. The 66-year-old former Led Zeppelin frontman has been interpreting the American Songbook for decades to great effect, roaming the back roads of Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas in an endless quest, compelled, he said, by his DNA. Then something changed in his internal chemistry, and he felt drawn home: “In a way, ironically, being a guy who sang in Led Zeppelin and stuff, I actually just returned to the misty mountains, to be honest.” It wasn’t the only life change. He also split with singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, his girlfriend of several years. “Life goes on, and I have a huge and deep affection for Patty,” Plant said. “I just had to come back.” You’ll hear Plant obliquely address his personal life on the album in songs like Embrace Another Fall, which he says “is about the regret of turning around.” He also reconnects with his new/old surroundings. “The Welsh, you see, have a totally different culture,” Plant said of a history he was introduced to as a child on vacation. “They’re quite lovely players. But once upon a time, their stories were way different than the Anglo-Saxon stories. There were stories of changelings and all this stuff that’s inspired by the landscape. It’s there in this current record, too. I’m here and my feet, my body, my energy, it goes deep into the ground.” He signed up the Sensational Space Shifters, a band that consists of longtime collaborators and the Gambian performer Juldeh Camara, for the album. They spent 15 months together on the road, then hit the studio. The result is ambitious and strikingly different, and Plant calls the results “a triumph.”
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Robert Plant never imagined he’d return to Great Britain.