‘A lot of that stuff was a cliche’: Robert Plant on returning to his Led Zeppelin-era vocal style

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Beginning roughly with 2007’s Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, Robert Plant began working in a quieter, more confidential manner that was completely alien to his Led Zeppelin style.

That T Bone Burnett-produced collection of old Americana tunes would win a 2009 Grammy for album of the year, but also questions about whether Plant would ever return to the big-voiced style of his legacy-building days. His more recent work in the Sensational Space Shifters — a band that fuses blues-rock attitude with world music — has put those questions to rest.

“It’s appropriate for what I’m doing now,” Plant says in this RTE2fm clip. “I wanted to get away from it, because — I was in the Band of Joy, I was in the Yardbirds, I was in Led Zeppelin, and I kicked ass. I used my voice sometimes kind of like an instrument, like a psychedelic scat or whatever it was. I pushed it up, I pushed the range up more and more as I went on. So I got to where I was singing really high. But when I started working in a different time, I found that a lot of that stuff was a cliche. It was all around; there was a lot of that stuff going on — and a miss is as good as a mile. So, I was glad to make the departure. Now, with these guys, the energy level is so high that I can do it again, in a different way.”

Despite its many accollades, Plant has put to rest the idea of a sequel to Raising Sand, saying that an attempt to rekindle that magic has already failed.

“We tried it, but it fell on its face,” Plant says. “I think we relied too much on T Bone coming up with a real treasure trove of tracks — and he couldn’t find them.”

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