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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Raising Sand – 2007 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Julie Drysdale

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CDs by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

The best musical collaborations transcend the talents of the individual participants to deliver a uniquely fresh sound. Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and bluegrass virtuoso Alison Krauss reach new heights, backed by an all-star cast of musicians and produced by T Bone Burnett.

Burnett chose an eclectic set of covers, digging deep into material from both modern and classic songwriters: Phil and Don Everly, Mel Tillis, Tom Waits, Gene Clark and Townes Van Zandt are all represented here.

Every track is a revelation, from the bluesy rendition of "Rich Woman" to the rootsy rockabilly of "Gone Gone Gone" and the romantic harmonizing of "Stick With Me Baby."

Plant and Krauss receive superb supporting musicianship from Burnett and Marc Ribot on guitar, Dennis Crouch on bass and Jay Bellerose on drums. Also appearing are Norman Blake (acoustic guitar), Gregory Leisz (pedal steel), Patrick Warren (keyboards) Riley Baugus (banjo) and Mike Seeger (autoharp). Krauss adds her fiddling skills to three tracks.

While Krauss's vocals on "Trampled Rose" are stunning, and Plant evokes his earlier work on "Fortune Teller," this collaboration works best when their extraordinary vocal talents harmonize, particularly on Rowland Salley's "Killing the Blues" and Doc Watson's "Your Long Journey."

On "Raising Sand," Plant and Krauss blend their considerable talents into a remarkably satisfying musical achievement.