Moore Music – Alison Krauss & Robert Plant’s “Raise the Roof”
When I was a young teenager in the 2000s I was purely into classic rock. I naively cast aside the pop punk and hip hop and god forbid COUNTRY music that was on the radio, thinking that hard hitting Brit-rock titans like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin could not ever be topped. Then I remember watching the Grammys in 2008, only to see that Robert Plant, lead singer of Zeppelin won Album of the Year with Allison Krauss – a woman I only knew from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack that my parents kept pumping through the car and home.
I saw him humbly step on stage. This legend of rock – with his weathered face, and lions mane of hair teamed up with this soothing-voiced bluegrass artist? My mind boggled. How could that be? But there’s no denying that Krauss and Plant of a totally uncanny ability to spin musical gold together, and 15 years later they return with Raise the Roof
If I had only known back then that Grammy-Winning album, Raising Sand, would lay the groundwork for the dark and mysterious Americana that makes up a huge chunk of my listening nowadays. Raise the Roof, this successor that came out at the end of last year, reunites the two prodigal artists for what’s predominantly a cover album, reimagining songs from the likes of Allen Toussaint, the Everly Brothers, and Merle Haggard. There’s also a great version of Lucinda Williams’ Can’t Let Go and I was bowled over to hear Quattro by Calexico, a gem of a song deep in the rough, as the opening track, with bright new life breathed into it.
Beyond the obvious all-world combination of their gifted voices, there is some really creative instrumentation on several of these songs, which is masterminded by T. Bone Burnett. The extremely decorated producer played the majority of instruments here himself. For the most part its his signature sparce and echoey sounds, evoking long expanses of rural nothingness. But on songs like Bert Jansch’s It Don’t Bother Me, he takes a 60s country tune and makes the string arrangements is almost Medieval sounding at times, adding near-mystical percussion. It’s more than outside the box, its pure sonic alchemy. Burnett and Plant also penned together the only original song on the record, the bluesy and Roaring High And Lonesome.
While I think I would have been a lot more interested in album of all originals that this power trio could create together, this is still more than enjoyable and doesn’t have a bad song on it. Allison and Robert both sound at the top of their game, actually Plant sounds better than he has in years. Proving they can take any song and gild it with beauty or mystery It’s just a shame it took a decade and a half to get another release from this duo that exemplifies the phrase “match made in heaven.”