Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: hairdos that match, voices that soar


I once dated a woman who was

a bluegrass fan. Of course, when she mentioned it, I promptly said,

"I love bluegrass!" although the only thing I knew was that

it involved banjos and fiddles and pickin’ and grinnin’. (My daddy was

a Hee Haw fan.) The next day, I headed to a music store to get

a best-of-bluegrass CD and actually enjoyed quite a bit of it, especially

the tracks by Alison Krauss.

The girlfriend is long gone,

but Alison Krauss still turns my head from time to time. In fact, the

Cold Mountain soundtrack, to which she contributed, is on my iPod.

As is Led Zeppelin IV. As a result, I once had a shuffle mode

moment in which "Stairway to Heaven" followed "You Will

Be My Ain True Love." It wasn’t exactly a natural progression.

So when I heard that Robert

and Alison Krauss had made an album together, I thought it was a joke. But trust

me, Raising Sand is no joke.

As unlikely as the pairing

is, it works. The two voices come together in a way I didn’t expect

— the sound is neither bluegrass nor rock and roll, but you can hear

the influence of both. The songs are familiar — covers of Tom Waits,

the Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips and more, including

one by Jimmy Page/Robert Plant. One of my favorites is the

Townes Van Zandt song, "Nothin’," which combines Plant’s

Zeppelin-like guitar and Krauss’ country fiddle to remarkable effect.

And I’ve listened to "Polly Come Home" at least five times

today — it is very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, but much more haunting.

You can preview the entire recording on the album’s website.

Grammy Award winner T-Bone

produced Raising Sand and plays guitar on 10 of its

13 tracks. This "making of" video with Plant, Krauss and Burnett

lets us glimpse the chemistry between the three musicians that made

this recording so magical.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

will be featured guests on NPR’s World Café

on Nov. 22 between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. ET. No word yet on a tour,

but if Plant and Krauss come to town, I’ll be there.

Have you listened to Raising

? What do you think of this pairing?

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