Raising Sand Review
Written by Bridgette   
Sunday, 06 April 2008 12:49

When the album was released last November, I had the lucky task of planning a trip to London to see the Led Zeppelin reunion at the O2. As a Zeppelin fan, I have followed Robert Plant's career quite closely, so I am used to him exploring different area of sound and music. I thought to myself, this could wait until I get back. After the show, the Zeppelin members were on the interview circuit and Plant introduced his new album several times, complete with video clips. "Gone, Gone, Gone" started to grow on me and I became curious and anticipated, as with other Plant projects, it was a unique piece of work. I mentioned it to a colleague who is a genuine bluegrass fan. He told me he didn't like it, because it wasn't bluegrass enough. I listened to the song more closely and although I don't know bluegrass at all, I understood what he meant, and as a Zeppelin/Plant fan, was secretly pleased. Plant is the like the scorpion in the fable of inherent character. He just can't help himself to be who he is. Even with the intricately timed harmony of he and Krauss and his wish to discipline himself with this new genre, he is still Robert Plant. His wails and moans are there, they are just subdued, and occasionally, a good one slips out, and we smile, because we know there is more under the surface.

Mid-Februrary, I caught the album playing in a local record store. When I heard it, I bought it and played it immediately in my car, taking the long way home. Within the week, Plant and Krauss had won at Grammy for "Gone, Gone, Gone", as the Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. It wasn't televised, but I imagine, for Plant, it was a validation of the creativity and importance of his new work. His first Grammy was in 1998 with Jimmy Page for Best Hard Rock Performance on "Most High".

Listen to Raising Sand in it's entirety and, as Plant does, you will embark on a new genre that is difficult to define, but also seems familiar. The Everly Brothers' "Gone, Gone, Gone" is the pop pitch that has captured the media's attention. The album is skillfully produced and the tracks are arranged in a sequence that offers repeated surprise to the listener. Plant and Krauss trade off both singing in harmony and leading the vocals with backups from the other that are poignant refrains. Some songs are straight country and bluegrass, and Krauss uses the clarity of her voice to keep the tracks fresh. Even with permission from Leisz's steel guitar, she never drawls. Woven into the laid back style is the head on Page/Plant remake of "Please Read The Letter". Plant sings the version with Krauss more slowly, offering a soothing explanation of the story behind the original Walking into Clarksdale piece that is pure Page power. Don't ask me which version I like better, they are both excellent and remarkably different. Krauss' solos are slow, haunting and poetic with a Middle Eastern flavor. Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan wrote "Trampled Rose", and the lyrics reflect Waits' use of symbolism. "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson" is much more upbeat, traditional and a delight. My favorite track on the album is "FortuneTeller". Bellerose's tapping drums and the highlights of Burnett and Ribot's guitar frame the song and keep the energy going as Plant tells this charming story. Plant expresses his mystical side with a dash of humor while the wails and moans put him in proper perspective as Krauss' angelic voice has us believing in the power of connections that we cannot explain. Finally, "Your Long Journey" is so beautiful and sad that if you have a meaningful loss in your life, you may want to pull over before you hear the entire song. This album will move you in ways you did not expect. And regardless of how you define the genre, isn't that the Zeppelin way?

 
Donation page closed

It's been over a month since Led Zeppelin performed a great tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegun.  Many of us were able to acquire a copy of the show, some of us with 10 different versions (from difference tape sources).   The donation page setup for their foundation was set to close Jan 23rd. Did you donate to the charity?

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