Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant

by Adam Z. Berenstain, SUNY Cortland, April 1, 2008

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Raising Sand might be a collaboration between acclaimed folk-country singer Alison Krauss and the legendary Robert Plant, but the past looms large as an uncredited third member of Krauss’ ensemble. The album consists mainly of interpretations of country, folk, and rock songs from days gone by, and most of these songs spin stories of lost love and memories that can’t be shaken off. Yet Krauss’ clear voice and the loping power of T-Bone Burnett’s production suggest that there’s life after loss.

Fans of Robert Plant may be disappointed to find his trademark soulful falsetto reined in throughout Raising Sand, though Plant does get to cut loose and get the Led out toward the end of the excellent Please Read the Letter. Even die-hard Zeppelin fans will likely find Plant’s vocal restraint is worth his beautiful harmonies with Krauss on songs like Killing the Blues.

Raising Sand lacks the cohesiveness that would have made for a truly great album, however. The jump from the rockabilly of Gone, Gone, Gone to the stately Polly Come Home is particularly noticeable. But we don’t always have a choice about where memory takes us. Listening to Krauss and Plant’s collaboration sounds like two people following their memories and a shared muse, and it’s a worthwhile trip to take.

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