Rounder 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‚Ä¶.
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.