Some of Band of Joy is fun. “You Can’t Buy My Love” and “Angel Dance” have irresistible tunes and lighter-than-air grooves. Some is haunting. “Silver Rider” and “Monkey” are cinematic tone poems full of dread and despair. Some is pretentious. “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” has an arrangement so solemn it’s silly, and “Even This Shall Pass Away” has an arrangement so insipid it’s silly.
For me, Band of Joy doesn’t quite cohere as an album, nor does the band quite cohere into a band. This isn’t to say that the musicianship isn’t first-rate, but as a unit they lack focus and force. But Plant took them on the road last fall in Europe and they’ll be touring America this winter, with a show in Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium on January 21. Four months of playing together could make them truly a band of joy.
[Originally published in January, 2011.]