Despite Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant entering his autumnal years, the rock veteran still keeps a keen eye on contemporary artists, and there’s one name, in particular, that has impressed the singer.
As he’s grown older, Plant’s musical output has matured with his age, and his days producing hard rock are firmly over. In recent years, the singer has adopted Americana, and he’s showing a more soulful side to himself.
His collaborations with Alison Krauss are unrecognisable from his early output with Led Zeppelin, which is precisely how it should be. While it would be easier for Plant to make them arena-friendly rock, he wouldn’t be staying true to himself as an artist if he ventured down the commercial route. Besides, when you have as many zeroes in your bank account as he can boast, a level of freedom is afforded.
Unsurprisingly, it’s another artist from the realm that he now populates that Plant revealed as his favourite modern artist. He made the revelation during his appearance on BBC Radio 2’s Tracks Of My Years, where he reflected on the most important songs from different periods of life.
While his early years were soundtracked by the hell-raising sound of The Rolling Stones, it’s the tender sound of Nathaniel Rateliff that Plant currently finds himself turning towards when he needs some musical company.
If you’re unfamiliar with the work Rateliff, he is gifted with a soulful voice and graced with folk leanings. He’s released three solo albums, as well as another trio of records with his band, The Night Sweats, and it was the title track from his most recent solo album, 2020’s, And It’s Still Alright, which Plant selected when he appeared on Tracks Of My Years.
Explaining his decision, Plant said: “Well, Nathaniel is one of the really big strong new names in America. Also, he is a real great blue-eyed Soul singer and his new record, it’s just a killer. So he is a soulful guy, he is one of these guys that will just carry the torch. Beautiful songwriting, beautiful singing, great delivery and he is a magnificent guy to go with it”.
In 2019, Plant and Rateliff co-headlined a show together at The Mann in Philadelphia, a dream come true for the American. Following the performance, Rateliff posted an image of the pair on Facebook and wrote: “Such an honor to play with Robert Plant and a pleasure to be graced with his humor and kindness.”
It’s encouraging that Plant still chases the same thrill from discovering a new artist and isn’t unhealthily obsessed with bands from the same era as Zeppelin, which shows that he’s someone who looks sternly forward rather than glancing out of his rear-view mirror.