Perhaps at first, one might not pair legendary rock icon,Robert Plant with the bluegrass and country influence of Allison Krauss but after you hear “raising sand” in its entirety, it makes perfect sonic sense.
Musically,it isn’t purely one genre or another, although the source genre is always apparent to the listener i.e. “gone gone gone” has an instant déjà vu to abygone era of the rockabilly of the 50’s and upon further inspection of the liner notes, it is no surprise that the song was written by the Everly Brothers. The instrumentation at times conjures imagery transporting the listener to a remote middle eastern desert; the 8th note pulsing tambourine not auto-generated from pro-tools via drum machine gives it an authentic grit feel that used to be prevalent in the early decades of recording when artists had to hone their craft to a refined point so that they made less mistakes but nevertheless added a human dimension to those early recordings when minor flaws were often left in because the overall performance had captured some inexplicable sonic magic that sometimes happens in the first or second take of a recording. The cleverly placed intervals between notes also help to put one’s sonic mind landscape in the middle of the Sahara as the sparely laced microtonal notes weave in and out of the non-traditional rockabilly and bluegrass hybrid created by Plant and Krauss.
It is what I like to call a great“anytime” album one can put on while working around the house for casual listening, or if intently listening to the recording itself…either way, it is a very “chill” recording and I’d go so far as to say one needn’t have ever had to listen to the genres of bluegrass or rockabilly or even country to enjoy the music for what it is…which is great music recorded by by great musicians with impeccable musical taste.
That kind of seemingly effortless performance from Plant and Krauss only comes from decades of studying, listening, performing and recording the musical pillars of rockabilly, bluegrass and country…to create a hybrid of those genres while maintaining the true essence of each and still come up with something new and fresh, is nothing short of a musical feat that auto-tune and pro-tools saturated recordings of today could never capture…in short, magic is not manufactured or edited…it is simply a true artist like Plant and Krauss are privy to that muse because they have prepared to be open to that ephemeral and short window of opportunity and let the magic flow through their collective mastery and decades of experience.
I give it 11 amplitudes out of 11! ; )
Review by John Michelbach