Robert Plant is one of the greatest frontmen in rock and roll history, but he’s also a brilliant songwriter, co-writing classics like “Thank You,” “Immigrant Song,” “Over The Hills And Far Away,” “In The Mood” and “Little By Little.” However, fans may have forgotten that fact, since three of his last four albums have been predominantly covers: 2002’s Dreamland was mostly ’60s songs, 2007’s Raising Sand with Alison Krauss featured mainly country and blues songs selected by producer T-Bone Burnett, and 2010’s Band Of Joy featured covers of lesser-known songs by acts like Los Lobos and Richard Thompson.
The songwriting drought will come to and end with his next album, which features a new backing band, The Sensational Shape Shifters. Plant tells England’s Daily Telegraph that his next record is almost finished, and will feature “12 tracks, 11 originals and no sentimental stuff.”
The Sensational Shape Shifters features a few musicians familiar to Plant’s fans: singer Patty Griffin from Plant’s last group, The Band Of Joy, guitarist Justin Adams and keyboardist John Baggot both played on Dreamland and Plant’s 2005 album The Mighty Re-Arranger. Guitarist Liam “Skin” Tyson also played on The Mighty Re-Arranger. The band is rounded out by bassist Billy Fuller, drummer Dave Smith and multi-instrumentalist Juldeh Camara, all of whom layer with Justin Adams in a band called JuJu.
Plant and The Sensational Shape Shifters are playing a string of dates in Brazil in October, and in Argentina, Chile and Peru in November. You can get a taste of the new band on their downloadable live album, simply called 2012/07/12 London, available on iTunes.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local