Feature

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Raising Sands (Rounder)

Robert Plant and Alison KraussRaising Sands(Rounder)

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The “beauty-sweetens-the-beast concept” isn’t new, but this unlikely pair definitely makes it work, said Timothy Finn in The Kansas City Star. Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and bluegrass queen Allison Krauss might seem like an odd couple. He represents rock at its most indulgent; she embodies country at its purest. The two first met in 2004, when Plant asked Krauss to collaborate with him on a tribute to bluesman Lead Belly. Their love for American roots music lead to Raising Sands, a spectrally sound collection of covers. Plant and Krauss tackle little-known works by everyone from Tom Waits and Sam Phillips to Townes Van Zandt and the Everly Brothers. Benefiting from the musical Midas touch of producer T Bone Burnett, Raising Sands is less about forced chemistry and more about natural harmony: The record’s virtue is the effortless blending of their voices. Plant’s leonine roar is rarely unfurled but remains “measured, refined, and restrained.” Alone, Krauss’ “honey-sweet chords” can often become sugary, said Chris Jones in the BBC Online. Here, they are “balanced by the mature grain of Plant’s almost whispered delivery.” Raising Sands is a parable of dark Gothic Americana, said Neil Spencer in the London Observer. It comes together as “a scintillatingly stitched patchwork of country, R&B, and singer-songwriters that represents what Plant describes as ‘the America I have always loved musically.’” The only skeptics will be those awaiting an “Immigrant Song” screech.

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