Originally appeared on nashville95.com
By Mandy Phillips
There’s no doubt that the pairing of rock legend Robert Plant and bluegrass queen Alison Krauss is a unique match-up. In fact, the new album might well have been titled Raising Eyebrows instead of Raising Sand. But with their respective tenor and soprano powerhouse vocals, a Plant / Krauss match-up is a musical match made in heaven.
Raising Sand feels a bit like the two artists’ personal music playground, as it flirts with various styles, arrangements, and musical concepts from track to track. There is no continuity with the album, but somehow it works. The listener is left wondering what will come next - will it be a blues-infused track, a country losin’ song, or a melody that sounds like it could have been pulled straight from one of Plant’s Led Zeppelin albums.
For those who have been exposed to the released single “Gone Gone Gone,” don’t expect the same upbeat, cheery sound to resonate through the entire album. In fact, the single - which sounds delightfully like every bit of the ol’ Everly Brothers tune that it is - is one of only four up-tempo selections on the 13-track album. Plant and Krauss meet in the middle in terms of style on “Gone Gone Gone,” blending country-ish vocal arrangements with edgier instrumentation. On several other tracks, though, Plant drifts into Krauss’ country territory, while Krauss makes her way into the world of progressive rock.
And in an era when a lot of popular music sounds a lot a like, be prepared to hear some very unique songs and styles on Raising Sand. From “Rich Woman” - which could have been a 1960s country hit if not for the modern instrumentation - to “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” - which is both eerie and entrancing in its arrangement, there are very few traditional songs on this album.
But fans of Krauss who are seeking a bit of the Alison they know and love won’t be disappointed. “Trampled Rose” offers plenty of country appeal, while several other tracks dip into the folksy waters that Krauss often visits. And if you’re a fan of Plant’s stylings, be prepared to enjoy several tracks like “Nothin’” and “Polly Come Home.”
In the end, Raising Sand offers a rare pairing of two of the most reveled vocalists in modern popular music, and while the album may not necessarily strike a chord with every country music fan, it does showcase an exciting and unique musical experimentation.