Greta Van Fleet is kind of a punchline on the internet. When they started out, the singer had the ability to sound almost exactly like Robert Plant in his prime. And this is a young, early twenties kid here. Kinda like Plant was. But this kid’s voice — I should get his name, hang on — Josh Kiszka’s voice was, if anything, more powerful than Plant’s. But because his vocal sound was so derivative, and because the guitar player is no Jimmy Page, the band was written off by many as a cheap Zeppelin ripoff, an opinion I shared briefly.
That brings us to 2021’s sophomore effort, The Battle at Garden’s Gate. As far as I can see, Josh has moved on from sounding exactly like Plant and is carving out his own niche, his own style, his own voice, if you’ll forgive the expression. His singing on Battle sounds — this is gonna sound corny, but he sounds to me like an angel. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about pukey, cutesie-poo gift shop angels. I’m talking Biblical force of nature kind of angels. His voice sounds inhuman, is what I’m getting at.
Which is a pretty exciting development. The new vocal sound, the guitarist’s marked improvement — what started out as a completely Zeppelin-derivative effort has evolved and blossomed into something new and exciting. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s still totally 70s rock. But it’s fresh now. I will be paying attention to what Greta Van Fleet does in the future.
By the way, I don’t mean to disparage the guitar player, Jake Kiszka, by saying he’s no Page. He’s a good player. Page just made better riffs. Which isn’t really a disparagement; Page made better riffs than most guitarists in history. But again, these kids are real young. It’ll be truly a joy to see how they mature and develop.
I leave you with a song. This is a live recording, but not before an audience. They just played and recorded a video, I guess? This is “Heat Above”, the opening track from Battle at Garden’s Gate. Enjoy.