Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

November 8, 2007

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss – Raising Sand

I vaguely remember hearing about the collaboration of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss a few months ago. At the time I thought it could either be an incredible project or a dud.

Surfing the net today, I discovered that their collaboration has been released. It’s called Raising Sand. I went to the web site for the project at www.robertplantalisonkrauss.com hoping to learn more about the project and maybe hear some samples of the resulting music.

The project was produced by T Bone Burnett. I have one of his CD’s called The Talking Animals. I bought that mainly for a song called “The Killer Moon” which initially reminded me of John Lennon. The rest of the CD is ok, but I never was interested enough in his stuff to buy anything else by him.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that you could listen to the entire Raising Sand album on line at the web site. I didn’t really know what to expect. Alison Krauss is probably the best female singer I’ve ever heard. And of course, Robert Plant is a legend in rock music. Maybe I halfway expected them to sound something like Hayseed Dixie. Boy, was I wrong.

If you’re looking for upbeat music, this isn’t the album for you. It’s definitely not a cross between rock and bluegrass. I don’t really know how to describe it. I guess it reminds me more of Cowboy Junkies than anything, and I don’t like the Cowboy Junkies.

I think the main problem with this album is the song selection. Apparently Burnett picked the songs.  I guess he was trying to avoid anything that might be similar to what Plant and Krauss would normally do, and I think he succeeded very well at that.

I was familiar with one song on Raising Sand. “Please Read The Letter” was a cut on the Jimmy Page/Robert Plant CD called Walking Into Clarksdale. Without Page’s guitar work, the song lacks spark and punch. But actually, most of Raising Sand could be said to lack spark and punch.

The drums (or whatever; it’s hard to tell) are some of the muddiest sounding drums I’ve ever heard. The vocals, from two of the best vocalists in the business, sound so subdued that you have to wonder if they were really into the project. According to the video on their website, they were into it.

I think Rounder made a big mistake when they put the whole album on line to listen to. I would have probably bought the album unheard had I seen it in a record store. I’m definitely not going to do that now.

I really hope these two get together again, but with a different producer. They have incredible potential as a duet.

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