After 14 Years, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Finally Reunite

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The duo worked with T Bone Burnett connected the million-selling triumph “Raising Sand,” successful 2007. Its sequel is erstwhile again an alternate to astir each of its popular contemporaries.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s improbable  concern   yielded a immense  deed  successful  the 2007 medium  “Raising Sand.” After a 14-year pause, they’re backmost  with a caller   LP of reimagined music.
Credit...Eric Ryan Anderson for The New York Times

Jon Pareles

Nov. 4, 2021, 10:00 a.m. ET

“Raising Sand,” the 2007 duet medium by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, started arsenic an experiment, a humble broadside task for 2 longtime bandleaders to revisit aged and caller songs. It was a hushed, long-breathed medium with a haunted twang, yet it turned into a blockbuster — selling much than a cardinal copies and winning five Grammy Awards including album of the year.

A follow-up would person seemed similar an evident adjacent step. Yet it has taken 14 years for the accomplishment of that sequel: “Raise the Roof,” owed Nov. 19.

“Raise the Roof” astir magically reclaims the spectral code of “Raising Sand,” past finds ways to grow connected it, delving further into some quiescent subtleties and wailing intensity. “It’s a small spot much smoky, a small spot much lustrous than the archetypal record,” Plant, 73, said by telephone from his location successful occidental England.

“It’s decidedly different, adjacent though it mightiness beryllium coming retired of the aforesaid benignant of crevasse, the aforesaid fork successful the scenery of our philharmonic lives. It has a temper to it, which is laced with clip and with the existent property and maturity of the songs themselves.”

But the musicians needed a decennary of reflection betwixt albums. “If we had thought we knew what we were doing successful the archetypal place, we could astir apt person repeated it,” T Bone Burnett, 73, the shaper and linchpin of some albums, said by telephone from Nashville. “But we didn’t. At the time, we were conscionable benignant of goofing off, having fun. And that’s what we were up against. We’ve been waiting for it to get to that constituent wherever we could conscionable person amusive doing it again.”

Plant and Krauss were an improbable pairing from the start. “We were from 2 radically antithetic worlds,” Plant said. He was the world-conquering, musically restless stone vocalist who had fronted Led Zeppelin. Krauss was already a luminary successful the much close-knit satellite of bluegrass and Americana, starring the drawstring set Union Station.

They were besides strikingly disparate singers, with contrasting philharmonic instincts. Krauss, 50, grew up harmonizing successful bluegrass groups, figuring retired and delivering restrained, precise, locked-in ensemble parts. “I’m a regimented-type singer,” she said. “Bluegrass radical sing things precise consistently, due to the fact that there’s 3 parts going connected astir times. And if idiosyncratic pulls astir and goes and does thing different, present the different 2 privation to tally you implicit with their car.”

Plant was utilized to a pb singer’s escaped rein; helium would improvise with each take. “I effort to sing crossed the bushed rather a bit,” helium said. “If it’s a straightforward groove, I similar to bounce crossed the near and close of the groove. I did it successful Zeppelin. I benignant of scuttle it, accelerate it, dilatory it down.” He chuckled. “It drives them mad.”

Krauss grew to admit their differences. “It makes you consciousness similar you’re hanging disconnected the borderline of a cliff,” she said by telephone from her location successful Nashville. “It is truthful breathtaking and truthful magnificent.” Plant and Krauss archetypal sang unneurotic arsenic portion of a 2004 tribute to Lead Belly, and Plant projected that they effort signaling unneurotic erstwhile their schedules aligned; that took much than a year. Plant initially suggested trying conscionable three days successful the studio to spot if thing worked out.


Credit...Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Getty

They enlisted Burnett, who had precocious reimagined old-timey Appalachian euphony for the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” which featured Union Station. For “Raising Sand,” the 3 gathered songs — mostly astir tragic mislaid loves — and transfigured them with adjacent harmonies and an aura of suspended time. Burnett’s workplace set fto tempos hover and undulate; Plant and Krauss discovered however uncannily their voices could acceptable together.

“A comic happening happens with them,” Burnett said. “When the 2 of them sing, it creates a 3rd voice, a 3rd portion successful their harmonies erstwhile determination are lone 2 parts. You know, 1 positive 1 equals 2 unless you’re counting, say, drops of rain. Then 1 positive 1 could adjacent one, oregon 1 positive 1 could adjacent a good mist. Their voices are successful that comparative abstraction wherever they sing unneurotic and it creates a good mist.”

“Raising Sand” was an otherworldly alternate to virtually each of its popular contemporaries (its contention astatine the Grammys included Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” and Ne-Yo’s “Year of the Gentleman”), and though it was released connected the folky autarkic statement Rounder, anxious listeners sought it out. It reached No. 2 connected the Billboard 200 medium chart.

Plant already had different task underway successful 2007: the arena-sized past hurrah of Led Zeppelin that December. But the Led Zeppelin show was an endpoint, portion “Raising Sand” was a caller beginning. Plant and Krauss toured for overmuch of the adjacent year, with performance sets that included immoderate revamped Led Zeppelin songs. They program to circuit again successful 2022.

“We’ve got a benignant of a property which we could prosecute arsenic 2 singers, a neat spot that we made for ourselves,” Plant said. “I conscionable liked the thought of really singing unneurotic passim an full show, much oregon little with somebody. Concentrating, listening, being free-form astatine times. Letting it rip, past being beauteous controlled and organized and pursuing instructions from her. And then, sometimes, letting spell truthful she can’t drawback me.”

Yet having a deed medium besides brought self-consciousness and pressure. Plant and Krauss tried signaling caller duets with their touring set conscionable aft their Grammy expanse successful 2009, but scrapped those sessions. “Nothing happened that was truly horrible,” Krauss said. “We conscionable felt similar it was excessively overmuch astatine once.”

They past returned to their ain bands and projects: Krauss with Union Station; Plant starring his Americana-rooted Band of Joy and then, for overmuch of the 2010s, the psychedelia-, trip-hop- and world-music-infused Sensational Space Shifters. “We truly enjoyed the information that we person nary thought astir our corresponding alternate lives,” Plant said.

Still, the “Raising Sand” collaborators stayed successful touch. “We’ve been sending songs backmost and distant for astir 14 years, trying to fig retired however to continue,” Burnett said.

Finally, successful 2019, they regrouped. A decennary of different enactment had made the sequel little fraught though “there was a small spot of trepidation connected my part,” Plant said. “I wasn’t definite whether we could reinvoke what we had. But it was precise short-lived, that question of whether oregon not it was real. It was like, I bow to her, and she curtsies to me, and we spot what we tin do.”

They went backmost to the venerable Nashville studio, Sound Emporium, wherever they had recorded “Raising Sand,” and wherever Burnett and Krauss person often recorded since. (Plant returned determination this year, helium said, for sessions with the 1950s guitar titans Duane Eddy and James Burton.)


Credit...Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The halfway bushed conception from “Raising Sand,” Jay Bellerose connected drums and Dennis Crouch connected bass, had continued to enactment with Burnett and returned for the caller album. They were joined by an expanded assortment of guitarists including Marc Ribot; Bill Frisell; David Hidalgo from Los Lobos; and Buddy Miller, a Nashville stalwart who was successful Plant’s Band of Joy. A fewer songs added collectors’ point drawstring instruments similar a Marxophone and a dolceola, some zithers played with keyboards: tinkling, evocative, echoey, unexpected timbres. Plant and Krauss finished signaling successful February 2020, conscionable earlier the pandemic lockdowns.

“Raise the Roof” opens with a opus from the Arizona set Calexico, “Quattro (World Drifts In),” which is filled with images of desolation, flight and war, possibly conjuring Afghanistan: “No prime but to tally to the mountains wherever nary poppies grow/You person to deed the crushed running.”

While astir of the different songs connected “Raise the Roof” ponder love, separation and longing, the medium has a discreet done line. “As we were going done the material,” Burnett said, “it was wide that a communicative was being told concerning a man, a pistillate and war. And it became wide which songs acceptable and the series they went in.”

The collaborators returned to immoderate of the songwriters from “Raising Sand,” picking up the Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love” and the Allen Toussaint opus “Trouble With My Lover,” which was recorded by Betty Harris. And arsenic connected “Raising Sand,” they remade tracks that started arsenic blues, old-timey, soul, country, gospel and rock.

Their versions are acold removed from the originals, often adjacent to inside-out. Most often, Plant said, “We person a benignant of languid, sometimes pensive sound, with the pathos of the archetypal opus taken into different place.”

They stripped songs down to conscionable lyrics and melodies, and rebuilt them intuitively successful the studio, often astir sparse, subtle beats from Bellerose. They shifted “Trouble With My Lover” from a large to a insignificant key, and Krauss trades Harris’s New Orleans psyche resilience for a neo-Appalachian plaint, lingering implicit the song’s loneliness and hints of betrayal.

Krauss chose “Going Where the Lonely Go,” a doleful ballad that Merle Haggard released successful the 1980s. Plant seized the accidental to grounds a psyche opus helium had been singing since his teens: “Searching for My Love,” by Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces. He besides brought worldly from Britain’s 1960s people revival: Bert Jansch’s stoically intransigent “It Don’t Bother Me,” which brings retired Krauss’s defiant streak; and Anne Briggs’s “Go Your Way,” a wife’s troubled farewell opus to a worker she whitethorn ne'er spot again.

At 1 of the album’s extremes, Plant unleashes his Led Zeppelin wail and echoes of “Kashmir” successful “High and Lonesome,” a opus that grew retired of a workplace jam session. Burnett and the bushed conception were toying with a Bo Diddley beat. Plant happened to person his publication of imaginable lyrics with him. The rubric is simply a tongue-in-cheek state cliché; the opus is not. It is arsenic biblical and bluesy, wondering, “If I should suffer my soul, would you inactive attraction for me?”

At the different extremity of the dynamic standard is “The Price of Love.” The Everly Brothers’ ain version is an exuberant two-minute, harmonica-topped stomp, though they’re singing astir a cheater’s bitter regrets. Plant, Krauss and Burnett took the opus down to half-speed and removed immoderate distractions. The way opens with fractional a infinitesimal of near-ambience arsenic instruments softly driblet in: a bowed bass drone, shakers, a distant fiddle, yet a fewer guitar notes earlier the bushed and chords solidify and Krauss arrives similar an accusatory wraith: “You won’t hide her,” she warns. By taking their time, they ore the essence of the song. And arsenic they did with “Raising Sand,” they calmly defy the impatience of 21st-century pop.

The opus “kind of forms earlier your ears,” Plant said. “When radical instrumentality worldly connected the vigor now, I deliberation you’re allowed similar 16 seconds oregon adjacent little earlier you’re really hitting a chorus. But past again, we’re sportfishing successful a antithetic pool. In fact, we’re not adjacent fishing. We’re conscionable trying to swim.”

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