After the Zeppelin reunion show in December, 2007, the band members were on the interview circuit and Plant introduced his new album several times, which had been released two months prior to the show. "Gone, Gone, Gone" started to grow on me and I became curious and anticipated, as with other Plant projects, it was a unique piece of work. I mentioned it to a colleague who is a genuine bluegrass fan. He told me he didn't like it, because it wasn't bluegrass enough. I listened to the song more closely and although I don't know bluegrass at all, I understood what he meant, and as a Zeppelin/Plant fan, I was secretly pleased.
Plant is the like the scorpion in the fable of inherent character. He just can't help himself to be who he is. Even with the intricately timed harmony of he and Krauss and his wish to discipline himself with this new genre, he is still Robert Plant. His wails and moans are there, they are just subdued, and occasionally, a good one slips out, and we smile.
Mid-February, Plant and Krauss won a Grammy for The Everly Brothers' "Gone, Gone, Gone", as the Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. It wasn't televised, but I imagine, for Plant, it was a validation of the creativity and importance of his new work. His first Grammy was in 1998 with Jimmy Page for Best Hard Rock Performance on "Most High".
Listen to Raising Sand and you will embark on a new genre that is difficult to define, but also seems familiar. The album, skillfully produced by T Bone Burnett, offers tracks arranged in a sequence that repeatedly surprises the listener. Plant and Krauss trade off singing in harmony with leading the vocals providing backups for each other that are poignant refrains. Krauss uses the clarity of her voice to keep the tracks fresh. Even with permission from Leisz's steel guitar, she never drawls.
Woven into the laid back style is the head-on Page/Plant remake of "Please Read The Letter". Plant sings this version with Krauss more slowly, offering a soothing backdrop of the story behind the original Walking into Clarksdale piece that is pure Page power. Don't ask me which version I like better, they are both excellent and remarkably different.
Krauss' solos are slow, haunting and poetic with a Middle Eastern flavor. Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan wrote "Trampled Rose", and the lyrics reflect Waits' use of symbolism. "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson" is upbeat, traditional and a delight.
My favorite track on the album is "Fortune Teller". Bellerose's tapping drums and the highlights of Burnett and Ribot's guitar frame the song and keep the energy going as Plant tells Allen Toussaint’s charming story (originally sung by Benny Spellman). Plant’s wails and moans put him in proper perspective with Krauss' angelic voice. Finally, "Your Long Journey" is beautiful and sad.
This album will move you into grooves that you did not expect. And isn’t that the Zeppelin way?
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