Krauss-Plant samples at Rounder.com

Robert Plant, Alison Krauss - Raising SandRounder has posted audio samples online from their upcoming Robert Plant/Alison Krauss release, due October 23. Bluegrass purists may argue that information about this CD has no place on Bluegrass Today, as there is little – if any – bluegrass music to be found there.

And they would be half right. Raising Sand is a departure from Krauss’ bluegrass outings, but the truth is that it is much closer to one of her recordings than anything Plant recorded with Led Zeppelin, from whence most fans of pop or rock music will know his work.

Some of the music does reflect Plant’s folk leanings, which popped up occasionally on Zep records and his later albums, but the publicity materials for the new collaboration give much of the credit to celebrated producer, T. Bone Burnett.

It all began quietly, in Alison’s Nashville home. Sitting side by side, with Burnett quietly lining out chord changes on guitar, Plant and Krauss sang. There were no microphones, no effects ‚Äì nothing to hide behind or escape into. "The idea was to take them both out of their comfort zone," Burnett reflects. "To take us all out of our comfort zones." As one of the finest harmony singers in any style of music, Krauss worked carefully with Plant to develop a blend, telepathically following the contours of his phrasing. New to such intensive two-part harmony, Plant paired down his vocal style to its most basic components ‚Äì resulting in some of the most affecting, soulful singing he has yet captured on tape. "I don’t get nervous really," Plant said of those early sessions. "But I realized once I started sitting down on that couch, I was in for a ride." As they grew more comfortable with the songs and the way their voices complimented one another, they stepped into the studio‚Ķ.

Burnett had assembled an intriguing group of musicians, with a core of guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Dennis Crouch, and drummer Jay Bellerose occasionally augmented by guitarist Norman Blake and multi-instrumentalist Mike Seeger. Caution and trepidation gave way to an amazingly fruitful run of sessions, spanning only ten days but resulting in almost the entire album. Burnett nurtured the music endlessly, encouraging the musicians to disregard the past and simply play the songs their way. The sound gelled quickly, as a roomful of strangers became an empathetic, organically telepathic band in a matter of hours.

Another interesting note about Raising Sand is that Rounder plans to release it on both audio CD and vinyl LP formats.

Check out the audio samples at Rounder.com, and see if you think it should be covered here.

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: Thanks to a commenter on an earlier post, we found this video that Rounder created as a promo for the CD. It features a discussion with Robert and Alison, along with some audio previews from the CD.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • RobertPlantFan

    Sadly, I think the reason a lot of people are finding this collaboration astonishing is that they think of Robert as “the voice of Led Zeppelin”–something he has not been for more than 25 years. From the moment he stepped out on his own in 1982 his albums have been as varied and eclectic as the man himself. Take for example the Honeydrippers project where he explored his love of Rockabilly, and which produced the Radio Hit ballad “Sea of Love”. Sixties folk and psychedelia laced with african rhythems has always been a theme running throug Robert’s work. Because he’s so eclectic, artists from all genres jump at the chance to collaborate musically. As a long-time Robert Plant Fan, this collaboration doesn’t seem that odd at all. Alison and Robert have similar thoughts and enthusiasms when it comes to the way they think about and approach music. I think Robert is one of the few musicians out there who doesn’t see any musical boundaries and just does what he enjoys no matter what it “genre” it might fit into at that moment. I think Alison might be similar in thought. And she’s one of the few people who can actually sing ROBERT’s songs without making fans cringe. Her vocal on “Big Log” from Viktor Krauss’ album was outstanding.

  • 1969mets

    I think this is somewhat of a fitting punishment (reward?) for Dolly Parton’s “Stairway To Heaven”

  • nashphil

    only on the bluegrassblog would anyone wonder if this fantastic album should be reviewed………..only on the bluegrassblog would anyone get upset and talk about Alison getting what she deserved or how she’s abandoned her real bluegrass fans, when in fact, Alison Krauss hasn’t made a pure bluegrass record, ever. Certainly nothing resembling a bluegrass record in at least ten years. I applaud her for making music that is interesting to HER.

    This site is more hung up over what is and what isn’t bluegrass than any real place in the world. Get over it.
    Good music is just good. Just enjoy good music and don’t worry about what to call it or what Bill Monroe would think about it. If you like it, then listen to it. If you don’t, then don’t.

    Bluegrass music should be about uniting like minded people under a common interest, not dividing these same people just for the sake of argument.

    Just an lurker’s observation.