Monday, February 18, 2008

Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

It sounded like a strange idea when I first heard about it: Raising Sand, an album combining bluegrass artist Alison Krauss with Led Zepplin's Robert Plant. Krauss is a very versatile singer and fiddle player unbound by categories and Plant has always stretched the limits of rock, still it sounded unlikely. Of course, I remember that Zepplin used to do some electrified folk songs, like "Gallows Pole." The project was brought together by T Bone Burnett. Mike Seeger is brought in on auto harp for the final song "Your Long Journey." It sounded more interesting the more that I thought. So, I placed a hold at the library.

Well, I have been listening and want to report that it works very well. I do not know how to classify what Krauss and Plant do, but it is good. I hear rockabilly, folk, blues, country, metal, and even French art songs mixed together. Many of the songs are from the 1950s or 1960s, penned by the Everly Brothers, Gene Clark, Tom Waits, Naomi Neville, and Mel Tillis. The Hinsdale Public Library has its copy in the folk display. iTunes has it as country. It does not matter so long as you can find it.

I was not really sure it was Robert Plant singing when I started listening, as he is fairly mellow in the first couple of songs, but as I kept listening, I started to hear familiar patterns to remind me of his Led Zepplin days. When other older rock stars are singing American standards, trying to sound like Sinatra, I like it it that Plant is taking on roots music instead. I particularly like "Polly Come Home," "Gone Gone Gone," and "Please Read the Letter." "Fortune Teller" reminds me a little of "Love Potion No. 9." Krauss and Plant do everything but opera on this album.

I know what I'm going to put on my birthday list - Raising Sand.

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