Although Jimmy Page says the prospects for a Led Zeppelin reunion aren't looking good, fans may well have the considerable consolation of a rocking new Robert Plant solo record to look forward to in 2013.
Band of Joy guitarist and producer Buddy Miller tells Rolling Stone that the Led Zeppelin singer visited his home studio in Nashville last year for a casual joint songwriting session that proved fertile, yielding an inspired batch of songs that the pair quickly recorded with Band of Joy drummer Marco Giovino.
"We didn't mean to, but we sort of wrote a record's worth [of material] and I said, 'While we're doing this, why don't I put up some mics and document it,' because that's better than just trying to remember it or record it on your phone," Miller explains. "And it sounded so good I think we, you know, accidentally made a record."
It's not finished yet, and there's no indication whether Plant will actually release it when it is, so Miller chooses his words carefully. "I don't know how much [Robert] would want me talkin' about it," he says, though he does allow that the songs they recorded would make for a raw counterpart to Plant's 2010 LP Band of Joy. "If the last record might be pastoral, parts of it, [this one's] much more tribal; it's much more urgent and tribal and, dare I say, rockin'!"
Plant has plenty to keep him busy for now, between the new Celebration Day concert film and news that Jimmy Page is working on remastered box sets for each of Zeppelin's albums, which means it may take a while for the new songs to surface. "He's Robert Plant and he can do whatever he wants to," Miller says. "He's got some Zeppelin stuff coming up now, so it's going to be next year before [the record] sees the light of day, that's what we're talking about."
Plant wasn't the only English singer to stop by Miller's place. Richard Thompson also found himself cutting tracks there, after the producer persuaded him during a visit to Nashville earlier this year. "I said, ‘Hey, you're in Nashville, how can you not [utilize] a few of these amazing players we have here?'"
As a result, Miller, Thompson and Thompson's rhythm section worked up an album in just a couple of weeks. "I played along on the record, playing rhythm guitar for him, and I got a two-week guitar lesson while he camped out in my house," Miller said of the sessions, which featured contributions from famed bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan and Alison Krauss, who sings on a song.
Thompson has yet to settle on a title for the album, which is due next year on New West Records. "We're going back and forth on the title," Miller says, joking. "So I wouldn't want to say, because what I'd have to say now, I'm hoping will change."
Miller also recently teamed with singer-songwriter and Americana architect Jim Lauderdale for Buddy & Jim, a duets record due December 10th on New West. "We made it in three days, but it's so good it sounds like it took four," Miller jokes. In August the pair also launched the Buddy & Jim Show on Sirius XM's Outlaw Country channel.