Robert Plant and Alison Krauss making an album together just might be the most unusual pairing this side of Bing Crosby and David Bowie in the 1970s. And you know what? It works. Damn, it works.
Today saw the release of Raising Sand, a collaboration of bluegrass fiddler Alison (Union Station) Krauss and rock god emeritus Robert (Led something-or-other) Plant. And this afternoon I made a slight detour to Best Buy to relieve them of one of their copies. The album is on Rounder Records, Krauss' label, so it was found in the country section -- admittedly not a part of the store's carpet I tread very often. I enjoy Americana and "modern bluegrass" -- which Krauss' band Union Station can be so-pigeonholed -- but mainstream country is too redneck/NASCAR/Republican for my taste.
This was one time I couldn't get out to the car soon enough, because I was chompin' at the bit to tear into the shrinkwrap and pop in that sucker. Nettiemac was able to score a preview, and already has posted her thoughts, but until about 4:15 this afternoon I had no idea what was about to fill my ears.
As I heard the opening track ("Rich Woman"), my first reaction was "holy shitzu." The harmony. No, it isn't exactly Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Gifted, Black and Decker, but what is? Their two voices blend nicely. The next cut, "Killing the Blues" is another piece of magic.
Track 4 -- "Polly Come Home" -- is, in a word, gorgeous. It has that dark feel which calls to mind a lot of Chris Isaak's music. This early in the game, I think it's my favorite song on here.
"Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)" is the 'hit single' -- or, as it's known today -- a 'focus track.' It's catchy and gets your attention, but while I like the song, other cuts trump it. Oh, and the early '60s M-M-M-Mel Tillis tune "Stick With Me Baby" is given a new coat of adhesive on this album. Yeah, I think I will.
About the only track which didn't speak to me was "Through the Morning, Through the Night." Alison has a beautiful voice, but here she's a little over-the-top with the twaaaaaaaang. I like twang when it comes from a pedal-steel guitar. I don't like it when it sounds like half-baked Shania Twang--er, Twain. But just knowing that it's Robert Plant vocalizing with her on here validates the whole exercise.
Seraphim and I had the same reaction: Raising Sand is making a beeline for the "mountain roadtrip" collection. As I was listening, all that was missing was a hearty serving of Appalachia, sauteed with generous amounts of Fall color.
Bolivar, dammit pal, come out of hibernation and give us your review. 'Cuz I know you bought a copy, too.
Ciao for niao.
--Talmadge "What's next? Bruce Cockburn and Britney Spears??" Gleck
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