Monday, November 12, 2007

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

These may or may not be newly released disks. They might not even be a good disk - just what is been in heavy rotation in my car (as usually the iPod is playing anywhere else).

At face value, Raising Sand could be one of the more unusual pairings in recent musical history. Not as odd as say, Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle (seriously - you must pick up One from the Heart soundtrack!). This is more along the lines of Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris.

Like the latter grouping, Plant & Krauss don't really perform that many duets. Sometimes I swear they don't even appear on each others songs. To be fair - there is nothing on the external (or internal for that matter) packaging that says they do - it is just implied.

When they do perform duets (or at least harmonize more), it usually works. I really enjoy "Rich Woman", "Please Read the Letter" and "Gone Gone Gone". It would have been nice to see more of it.

There are duet missteps: "Killing the Blues" for instance. It seems Alison & Robert have drained the entire life out of this cover. If you want to hear a good take on it - check out Shawn Colvin's version from her Cover Girl disk from 15 years back or so.

I cannot say I have ever been a big fan of Robert Plant. I was the odd man out in high school - preferring Nick Lowe or the Clash to Led Zeppelin. My coolest high school friend, Colin Greenan, (here's hoping he Gooogles himself and finds this) used to play bass guitar and sing Zeppelin covers in a band, and because of him, I only had a fondness for "Communication Breakdown". But I digress.....

Plant doesn't seem to stretch that much on this outing - but what do I know when it comes to this. He's had a few different lives since Zeppelin, so did not start out as reigned in.

Krauss however finally gets to break free from the Union Station mold which has grown a little stagnant as of late. Technically the band is great, but are caught in a formulatic rut. "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" has influences of Greek music and she take the masculine lead on Mike Campbell's (from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson".

But the most mesmerizing and possibly annoying thing about the record are actually one in the same - Krauss' take on Waits' "Trampled Rose". I cannot quite explain it, but the continuous climb to and fall from the high note is a major focal point of interest to me.

For good or bad, she's slightly out of her element and I find it welcoming. She stretches her boundaries and that can only help her work with Union Station down the line.

Overall, I say it is an ok disk, but nothing more than that. I will not go as far as to say it is a wasted opportunity but perhaps a missed one - as there much more they could have done with it. When their voices do blend, it proves to be an interesting dynamic.


rebecca said...

Oh pooh, I had hopes. I liked the one track I hoid.

You should check out the new Patti Smith album -- "Twelve" -- all covers. I liked it, esp. her cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit -- but Everybody Wants to Rule the World? Hilarious, Patti does Tears for Fears!

rebecca said...

Note to Robert Plant: Cut your friggin' hair! It does nothing to hide the paunch. BE sixty, Robert Plant. BE it.