originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star/fredericksburg.com
BY MATT CAMERON
Last year was so packed with great releases that it has seemed nearly impossible to get to all of them–particularly the less glamorous albums that take time to truly appreciate. One of these, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ duet album “Raising Sand,” released on Rounder Records, had long intrigued me, but never actually made it onto my playlist.
A little background on “Raising Sand” is certain to raise, if not sand, then expectations. The duo behind the CD is Robert Plant, the lead singer of the legendary rock ‘n’ roll group Led Zeppelin, and Alison Krauss, perhaps the most successful female country-bluegrass artist in history.
That such a collaboration was able to occur is, itself, a triumph for music. “Raising Sand” quickly became one of 2007’s seminal albums and an example of how successful a collaboration album can be when done correctly.
After listening to “Raising Sand” several times, it became apparent to me that the album is an example of a more traditional style of music–one that hip, young ears seem to have turned away from.
Sadly, that shift in musical focus means that younger listeners might be missing out on some of the purest sounds that exist today. “Raising Sand” is a disc that requires a level of patience, but will reward listeners with a stunning display of musical aptitude if given a chance.
The magic of the disc lies in the delicate musical bond that is established between Krauss and Plant. For the most part, it is a soft and slow album that picks up only on tracks like “Fortune Teller” and “Gone Gone Gone,” on which Plant’s blues prowess stands out from Krauss’ mellow bluegrass approach. The interplay between the duo’s voices is captivating when laid over smooth guitar rhythms, and these few rollicking numbers offset the rest of the album nicely.
Perhaps the album’s best track, however, is one of its slowest, “Polly Come Home.” It is minimalist, to be sure–but Krauss’ and Plant’s voices manage to evoke a quiet and solemn atmosphere of solitude.
Overall, it is this musical atmosphere that makes “Raising Sand” worth delving into. It might take more time to appreciate than the latest indie rock or hip-hop release, but it might eventually sound better than either.
Matt Cameron is a junior at James Monroe High School.