All heavy metal and classic-rock sex symbol roads lead to Americana. Wait long enough and David Lee Roth will call up Emmylou Harris for a tribute to Gram Parsons. Heading into his 60s, Robert Plant understands his audience and comprehends that he can't compete with the Marshall stacks forever. And there's no need to, not when he can afford to have Alison Krauss, T-Bone Burnett, Patty Griffin, Darrell Scott and Buddy Miller on his payroll. The latter three form the core of Plant's Band of Joy — named after his earliest group — which sustains the singer, still in strikingly potent form, as he takes on songs by Los Lobos, Richard Thompson and even Low. Oh, he'll still do "Black Dog" and "Gallow's Pole," but his transformation into a country-folk crooner and wailer is completely convincing.
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