I have seen many unlikely duos in music over the past say, 20 years, but none more unlikely than the front man for Led Zeppelin pairing with the angelic bluegrass singer. It’s one of those situations where magic just seemed to happen without being forced, where brilliance just poured out into the recording studio. Perhaps part of it was the excellence of producer T Bone Burnette, who has to be given equal billing here with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Burnette chose for the album mostly lesser-known material from great writers like Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt, Gen Clark, The Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips, and A.D. and Rosa Lee Watson.
Both Plant and Krauss venture into their own individual uncharted waters, and their vocal harmonies are so beautiful it’s scary. Alison almost overshadows the classic rock icon when she sings Sam Phillips' "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” - her soft, seductive vocals hypnotize. The duo’s cover of John Prine’s “Killing The Blues” is another high point to be sure, and Plant’s own composition, “Please Red the Letter” is equally compelling.
The musicians on the session are a primary factor in the overall beauty of this record. Marc Ribot, Dennis Crouch, Mike Seeger, Jay Bellerose, Norman Blake, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, and Riley Baugus are all superb, adding just the right strokes that help to define the art work.
Raising Sand may be the album of the year. In fact, it could be the album of the decade.
-Michael Buffalo Smith