Since then, Plant has reincarnated himself as an R&B crooner, a world music traveler, and, most recently and successfully, as American roots music’s elder voice on Raising Sand, his 2008 disc with Allison Krauss produced by T-Bone Burnett. But the spirit of Dionysus still hovered behind Plant—until he reached back to before Zeppelin ruled the earth with the release in 2010 of Band of Joy.
Named for Plant’s band prior to his apotheosis, Band of Joy shares salient features with Raising Sand. Patty Griffin takes on Krauss’s role as femme fatale, Buddy Miller takes on Burnett’s roles as guitarist and coproducer, and Darrell Scott takes on most of the other roles on a host of string instruments, while Byron House and Marco Giovino play supporting roles on bass and drums. But the basic tone of Band of Joy is darker and messier than that of Raising Sand, with more grunge in the mix than Burnett would likely have allowed.
All of the twelve songs are covers, save for one original by Plant and Miller. Three are traditional numbers arranged by Plant and Miller, while the rest range from Los Lobos’ “Angel Dance” to Richard Thompson’s “House of Cards” and Townes Van Zandt’s “Harm’s Swift Way,” with stops along the way for Barbara Lynn’s “You Can’t Buy My Love” and Milton Mapes’s “The Only Sound That Matters,” plus “Silver Rider” and “Monkey” by Low, Duluth’s own slowcore kings.