Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Plant and Krauss

Martin Hall admires the new Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album.

Why is it that when an artist releases something new, regardless to how phenomenal, gifted, or influential he or she may be; regardless to how inspirational, passionate and down right remarkable his or her back catalogue may be; why is it that artists’ new works are always judged against their previous masterpieces!?
As said on BBC Radio 2, ‘isn’t it strange that Robert Plant is releasing this album at the same times as he’s doing the Led Zeppelin stuff, it’s so different?’ I am afraid MR Radcliffe and, or Maconie, it is not a Led Zeppelin piece. Plant is an artist, a first-rate one at that, Robert Plant is not Led Zeppelin.

Plant’s latest album, a collaboration with Allison Krauss, blue grass fiddle player and singer extraordinaire, is awe-inspiring. These two artists, although a world apart in style, synthesize so exceptionally well together creating an unusual yet addictive and captivating sound.
‘Raising Sand’ hears Plant and Krauss, produced by T Bone Burnett, reworking and interpreting some of the best blues and blue grass songs of the 20th Century. We hear songs from such greats as Sam Phillips, Naomi Neville and the released single ‘Gone Gone Gone’ written by Phil and Don Everly.
Plant and Krauss’ current single ‘Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)’ is a powerful blues/rock interpretation of the Everly Brothers’ impressive track. It is a fantastic example of the strength in the combination of these two magnificent voices: Plant’s commanding and bold tone perfectly compliments Krauss’ soft and warm voice. The band really excels on this track creating a driving and controlling rhythm you will find it hard not to move to.
This album contains a host of what promises to be incredibly memorable music. ‘Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us’, a haunting and enchanting song, is one of the great gems of this album. It’s sinister and circus-esque tones are wonderful; this song creates a world in which you can disappear, evoking images and emotions abound.
‘Please Read the Letter’ is a reworking of Page and Pant’s song from their 1998 album ‘Walking into Clarksdale’. This song is beautifully sung once again yet comes with an extra something special in Krauss’ masterful touches of harmony.
A song which is an assured success, ‘Fortune Teller’ holds its own on this album, protruding as the most profound work here. Lyrically, Naomi Neville’s song is unparalleled; masterfully re-worked by Plant’s phenomenal voice this song stands out as one of the best I have heard in a very long time.
Unfortunately, every family has its Black Sheep, 'Through the Morning, Through the Night' claiming this title. This song simply does not belong on this album. If I was driving my pickup through the Bible belt, the red of my neck more sore than ever, looking longingly towards the evening's road kill supper, my track of choice may possibly evolve into said black sheep. However, this being said, the rest of the album then would not have been to my taste and I would have used the disk to frisbee at a nearby squirrel.

Nonetheless, the rest of the album in keeping with the success of the single, it certainly promises to please. This album is none too distant in sound from Plant’s previous work ‘Mighty Rearranger’ with his band Strange Sensation; drawing on Plant’s plentiful World Music influences, combined with a blues, blue grass streak to create a sound unlike any heard before: a blend of the modern and the worldly so expertly and successfully executed.

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