Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Raising Sand

Former Zep rock god teams up with bluegrass fiddle angel for discreet fun

Robert Plant's fender baritone has symbolized rock excess for almost four decades; Alison Krauss' virtuoso fiddle and mountain soprano have symbolized country purity for two. Post-Zep, however, the leonine Plant has put his star power behind roots music from the Delta to the Sahara, while the demure Krauss has proven a fearsome workaholic, her vaunted modesty vying with her professional drive. So although Krauss brings folk cred to these new weird duets, ascribe considerable smarts and soul to Plant -- and to producer T Bone Burnett, who assembled the atmospheric band and plucked most of the half-remembered material from the ether. Lend your ears to Li'l Millet's "Rich Woman," to Roly Salley's "Killing the Blues," and to the two Everly Brothers obscurities that cancel out the two Gene Clark obscurities. Skilled and inspired though it is, Raising Sand's relaxed, smoky harmonies and reverbed midtempo rockabilly don't always achieve the back-porch revelation they're going for. But they do both icons a world of good.

Rolling Stone, Nov. 1, 2007