One inspiration for the title of bassist Nathan East's second album for Yamaha – third if the Grammy-nominated Bob James collaboration The New Cool is counted – was the passing of Maurice White. The Earth, Wind & Fire leader is twice paid explicit tribute on Reverence. First, there's a faithful version of "Love's Holiday," featuring Philip Bailey in support, with East's bass in White's lead role during the verses. A slick "Can't Hide Love" fake-out and some other references are in the mix, too. Additionally, "Serpentine Fire" gets an ornate update with Bailey and EW&F partners Verdine White and Ralph Johnson. Phil Collins' drums and Eric Clapton's guitar are dredged from the master recording of an abandoned project, lost for 25 years, that was found in Patti Austin's basement by East's engineer.
At their best, cover albums have a strange way of galvanizing an artist by returning to the songs that inspired them; the artists can find the reason why they made music in the first place, perhaps finding a new reason to make music. Robert Plant's Dreamland – his first solo album in nearly ten years and one of the best records he's ever done, either as a solo artist or as a member of Led Zeppelin – fulfills that simple definition of a covers album and goes beyond it, finding Plant sounding reinvigorated and as restless as a new artist. Part of the reason why this album works so well is that he has a new band – not a group of supporting musicians, but a real band whose members can challenge him because they tap into the same eerie, post-folk mysticism that fueled Led Zeppelin III, among other haunting moments in the Zep catalog. Another reason why this album works so well is that it finds the band working from a similar aesthetic point as classic Zeppelin, who, at their peak, often reinterpreted and extrapolated their inspirations, piecing them together to create something startlingly original.