Monday, December 3, 2007

Review Round-up: "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss is something of a fiddle phenom and a big force in the small bluegrass revival of the '90s. And, of course, her work on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack really helped her break out into the mainstream. Robert Plant needs no introduction. Right? Ok, good.

My friend, Steve, down the street who is not particularly into music, but who knows that I am, pointed out a small blurb in a magazine he had about a new album called "Raising Sand" that was a Krauss/Plant collaboration. Being familiar with both artists, I was immediately intrigued. I've listened through it once so far and I have to say "Amazing".

Let's have a look at what others have to say:
From Thom Jurek at

What seems to be an unlikely pairing in the duo of former -- and future apparently -- Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss is actually one of the most effortless-sounding pairings in modern popular music. The bridge seems to be producer T-Bone Burnett and the band assembled for this outing. ... These two voices meld together seamlessly; they will not be swallowed even when the production is bigger than the song. They don't soar, they don't roar, they simply sing songs that offer different shades of meaning as a result of this welcome collaboration.

From Robert Christgau at (who gave it 3.5 out of 5):

Skilled and inspired though it is, Raising Sand's relaxed, smoky harmonies and reverbed midtempo rockabilly don't always achieve the back-porch revelation they're going for. But they do both icons a world of good.

He is rightly rebutted by reader "ffnb1086" who says:

Two artists that people would never think to pair together actually fit together like the pieces of an odd, but beautiful puzzle. You can hear Robert Plant's distinct style of interpretation and Alison Krauss' at the same time and they blend wonderfully. T Bone Burnett fantastic production and song selection is the hand that put the puzzle together.... There is a "back-porch revelation" in this album (which Christgau didn't notice, among many things) and that's the revelation that two artists, of completely different styles, can still have a common thread that binds them; and the measure of true artistry is how well the two of them can exploit that thread and show how beautiful it can be.

From Alanna Nash at (who describes the album as "haunting and brilliant"):

Plant and Krauss trade out the solo and harmony vocals, and while they both venture into new waters here (Krauss as a mainstream blues mama, Plant as a gospel singer and honkytonker), she steals the show in Sam Phillips' new "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," where a dramatic violin and tremulous banjo strike a foreboding gypsy tone. When Krauss begins this strange, seductive song in a voice so ethereal that angels will take note, you may stop breathing. That, among other reasons, makes Raising Sand an album to die for.

From General Jabbo at

Backed by a crack band including Marc Ribot, Norman Blake, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, and Dennis Crouch, Raising Sand sounds at once familiar and new. Two forces in their own right, Plant and Krauss combine to make something fresh and exciting. With rumors of a tour, the possibilities of Plant and Krauss reinterpreting each other’s catalogs makes this pairing even more intriguing. If Raising Sand is any indication, theirs could be the must-see tour of 2008.

Finally, metacritic rounded up 18 reviews (including a few I quoted here) to arrive at a score of 88 out of 100 (which is currently the 4th best score of any 2007 album they've covered).

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