50 Best Albums of 2017

Taylor Swift clapped back, Kendrick Lamar got personal, Lorde threw a high-concept party and more

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Robert Plant, 'Carry Fire'
50
32/50

32. Robert Plant, 'Carry Fire'

With a title that evokes primal discovery and heroic burden, Carry Fire finds Plant nuancing the mystic stomp of yore for darkening times. "New World..." is a wearily surging "Immigrant Song" for the age of xenophobic travel bans; "Bones of Saints" surges with "Going to California" promise, then becomes an anthem against mass shootings. The overall feel is at once ancient and new, cutting Led Zeppelin III's Maypole majesty with the Velvet Underground's careful guitar violence (see the "All Tomorrow's Parties"-tinged "Dance With You Tonight"), and the patient power of Plant's golden-god-in-winter singing can be astonishing. More impressive is the way that, at 69, he remains youthfully committed to rock & roll rejuvenation. One fine example of that spirit: his duet with Chrissie Hynde on "Bluebirds Over the Mountain," remaking a Fifties gem recorded by Richie Valens and, later, the Beach Boys, into a slow-roll barn-dance Bacchanal, complete with a levee-breaking yowl. It proves that Plant's athletic power, like his musical idealism, burns undiminished. J.D.

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