They’ve raised sand, now Robert Plant and Alison Krauss raise the roof in the most subtle fashion.
Release date: 19th November 2021
Format: digital / CD / deluxe CD / vinyl
Shockwaves reverberate around the globe as we find Robert Plant looking back…sort of. Not THAT far back though; just a decade or so to reignite the flame that burned brightly and has clearly continued to simmer, awaiting a fair wind to stir the duo once more.
Four stars in the Guardian and the gap between 2007’s Raising Sand and the 2021 collaboration doesn’t quite seem like almost fifteen years. There’s a lot you can do in fifteen years. In fact, there’s a game you can play at your festive gathering.
Meanwhile, just when you thought the old sensational shapeshifter himself had knocked this collaboration on the head to devote himself to Saving Grace, he comes roaring – more likely smooching – back with Alison Krauss, side by side, on another timeless and classy collection.
It’s a most pleasing and welcome return. Among the many projects – Band Of Joy, Sensational Shape Shifters, The Strange Sensation – the partnership with Alison Krauss was particularly potent while being classy, low key and basically great fun. There might be a few more lines around the eyes, although Alison barely looks a day older but the voices are full of character, working well within themselves, knowing where their limits lie and exactly how to use their gifts in what could be those twilight years.
And yes, while the duo croons their way through another immaculate set, they occasionally press their feet to the floor to rock and sway a little. The spaghetti western shuffle of Can’t Let Go where the pair duet is about as sprightly as it gets as we’re left to wallow in the spacious and roomy production that allows the gentle might of the songs and performances to wash over more often than not with a distant ambience offered by The Price Of Love. Trouble With My Lover goes all swampy; the density of the arrangement gives the piece a dark tribal atmosphere.
Go Your Way and Searching For My Love Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces both offer immediate hooks, Plant taking the lead with what’s now become his signature delivery of yore. No longer the impassioned wails but the cool, calm swagger of experience. The closest he gets to the stereotypical Plant, not always able to escape the roots, is on High & Lonesome, where you’re just waiting for something to kick off; brooding and slow-burning with the dynamism coming from the repetition in lines like “does she still think of me” and the increasingly frenetic rhythm and guitar part. It Don’t Bother Me is the Krauss showpiece – a terrifically seductive reimagining of the Bert Jansch piece and a reminder that in her partnership with Plant and his musical leanings, she’s found a late-career niche.
But Raise The Roof mainly sails a gentle and smooth passage that’s crafted by a refined band playing tight but comfortably chilled arrangements. Like the recent Elbow album, a few of our musical heroes seem to have been taking the mellow tablets in creating their latest work. Shelving any issues of frustration and anger, we could quote Guy Garvey and declare “what a perfect waste of time” for both Flying Dream #1 and Raise The Roof. The latter doing exactly what it doesn’t say on the tin. Like heroes, the only roof-raising and lemon squeezing you’ll find are in old books.
Here’s Robert & Alison doing Somebody Was Watching Over me: