Rare among '70s hard-rockers, Led Zeppelin icon Robert Plant has led an exemplary solo career, with his previous six albums all marked by broad musical sympathies, exquisite taste, and a yen for exper

Rare among '70s hard-rockers, Led Zeppelin icon Robert Plant has led an exemplary solo career, with his previous six albums all marked by broad musical sympathies, exquisite taste, and a yen for experiment. Rather than rest on these laurels, or his well-received two-album reunion with Jimmy Page, Plant has convened a great-sounding new band for an inspired set of covers, spiced with a pair of swampy originals. Favoring obscure blues and late-'60s/early-'70s folk-rock, the singer fully reanimates Jesse Colin Young's "Darkness Darkness," Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee," and Moby Grape's "Skip's Song." Plant and company conflate several blues standards for "Win My Train Fare Home," and they locate the scary murder-ballad essence of "Hey Joe." And rather than mirror the original neo-medieval cast of Tim Buckley's haunting "Song to the Siren" (or copy the more baroque This Mortal Coil version), Plant files the tune down to a spare, rustic plane. The dynamic range of Plant's vocals may have narrowed, but his emotional range has only widened, with his singing intimate and detailed throughout. Dreamland is an object lesson in maturing with grace, guts, and gray matter intact.—BB

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