The good news about Robert Plant’s Band of Joy? It’s not a reprise of his mega- platinum duets with Alison Krauss (Patti Griffin is the female vocalist here), it’s not a Zep or Honeydrippers album, but a little bit of the best of these and other aspects of Plant’s admirable solo outpourings. As for bad news, there is none. With Buddy Miller co-producing and playing multiple instruments in a band including Darrell Scott, Byron House, and Marco Giovino, Plant strides confidently across a field of stylistic touchstones from his past and present, rather awesomely employing the nuanced vocal shadings we’ve become accustomed to in his dotage. Which is not to suggest a lack of fire. In the thick sonic atmospheres and powerful center channel Plant-presence Miller fashions, mystery, wonder, and poignancy abound—in the Stones-ish (circa early 70s) country-soul of “The Only Sound That Matters,” with a shimmering, Lanois-esque ambiance; in the lumbering, groaning, anxious funk of “Even This Shall Pass Away”; in the punishing Zep III stomp of “Angel Dance”; in the twangy plaintiveness and bristling, anxious attack of Townes Van Zandt’s stunning treatise on mortality, “Harm’s Swift Way.” Raising Sand is but a memory here; behold Robert Plant, on higher ground.