Time moves in a different way when Robert Plant and Alison Krauss get together. On paper they’re an unlikely couple, flowing blonde hairdos notwithstanding. Plant, 73, is the leonine roarer once of rock behemoths Led Zeppelin, while 50-year-old Krauss, a generation and an ocean apart, is a bluegrass fiddle player who mainstream audiences mostly know from the hit O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Together they covered lesser known vintage material from the likes of The Everly Brothers, Townes Van Zandt and Gene Clark and gave it a hazy, dusty, old time feel that sounded fresh and also immediately classic. Their first duets album, Raising Sand, was the big winner at the 2009 Grammy Awards, beating Radiohead and Coldplay to the main prize of the night for Album of the Year, and also winning four more.
Now they’re making a belated second outing, with O Brother producer T Bone Burnett back on the team too, and not much has changed – which is a very good thing. Raise the Roof can be played back to back with its predecessor without anyone noticing the join. The net has been cast more widely for material this time, with English folk represented by Anne Briggs’ Go Your Way and It Don’t Bother Me by Bert Jansch, both presented in starkly hypnotic form. There’s a new song, too: the rumbling electric guitar and urgent handclapping of High and Lonesome.
Throughout, Plant undersings to give necessary space to the purer tones of his partner, and once again, it already sounds like they have another classic on their hands.