Some 14 years on from the somewhat unusual pairing of Plant with American bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss which saw the release of ‘Raising Sand’ to wide acclaim, the duo came back with ‘Raising The Roof’ which has been nominated for three Grammy’s. While the debut did not feature any originals, this does include one, with “High and Handsome” being written by Plant with multi-instrumentalist/producer T-Bone Burnett who worked on both albums. Since Zeppelin, Plant has often immersed himself in other genres, looking to do different things with his voice, and apparently he and Krauss first met at a Lead Belly tribute concert although they were already aware of each other’s work.
This again feels like a coming together of two minds, as they are both dominant at times, and supportive at others, with both taking leads when the time is right. It is also interesting that on some songs one may have a very small part indeed, there is no need for rubbing of egos, it is all about what is best for the music which is full of space and restraint. This is Americana pure and simple, and it is difficult at times to remember that Plant is from the Black Country and not the mid-West as he sings this as if he was born to it. Also, he was 71 when this was released yet there is no sign of age in his vocals whatsoever, which still sound as haunting as ever. Yes, it has been produced within an inch of its life, and is aimed firmly at the middle of the road (otherwise why would we get the sugar-laden “Searching For My Baby”?), yet it is still intriguing and can be played without offending anyone. Pleasant and enjoyable while never reaching the heights of indispensability, it is nice all the same.
8/10 Kev Rowland