Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise The Roof (Warner)

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss finally follow up Raising Sand 14 years later. Was it worth the wait?


Way back in 2007 Plant and Krauss were winning awards and accolades for their unlikely collaboration. When Raising Sand went through the roof…going platinum and scoring five Robert PlantGrammys, a follow-up seemed like a natural, and sure enough, the duo were back in the studio in 2009. But the sessions were deemed “unsuccessful” and it seemed that this little project was a one-time-wonder.

So, suddenly, 14 years later, here we are…not only are Plant and Krauss crooning together once more, but producer T Bone Burnett is back behind the glass and trusty sidemen such as drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch and guitar wiz Marc Ribot are also back for another spin along with Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, string men Buddy Miller and Bill Frisell and even Lucinda Williams stops in to sing along.

Even a few classic songwriters return including The Everly Brothers and Allen Toussaint.

Like Raising Sand, this is an album of covers, except one song…the Plant/Burnett composition High And Lonesome.

So, is this simply a rehash of a well-received album made 14 years ago, or something new?

Yes and no.

Anyone who fell in love with Raising Sand will be very pleased with what they hear here. For those looking for something a bit different…you will be rewarded.

Those musical rewards come in the production and the playing rather than Plant and Krauss’ vocals. Don’t get me wrong they still sound otherworldly and wonderful, especially when they are in close harmony on tracks like The Price Of Love and Can’t Let Go. But for me the real beauty of this record lies in the detail…Jeff Taylor’s Dolcelo and marxophone on Bert Jansch’s It Don’t Bother Me and the double mellotron played by T Bone and Viktor Krauss on High And Lonesome.

And the real secret sauce here is drummer Jay Bellerose whose deep bottom drums send an eerie menace into songs like Trouble With My Lover and Calexico’s Quattro (World Drifts In).

Other magic touches include the pedal steel on Going Where The Lonely Go.  Sung by Krauss, it turns the Merle Haggard ballad into something like a lost Roy Orbison tune. And Lucinda Williams chimes in on Maria Muldaur’s gospel infused Somebody Was Watching Over Me.

I could go on. But instead I suggest you simply listen. And if you have a turntable, get the double-disc vinyl version…it sounds ever so sweet with the 12 tracks spread over 4 sides for maximum fidelity.

No, there are no surprises here…but there is plenty of good music so…Christmas is coming.

Marty Duda

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