‘The most essential thing to carry out was maintain a really interesting variety of sources’ … Alison Krauss and Robert tree at Sound Emporium in Nashville. Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen/The Guardian
Fourteen year after your Grammy-winning debut, the roots duo have actually reunited – encountering high expectations. They describe how castle left your comfort zones v a ‘nuts yet tasteful’ all-star band


More than fifty percent a century since arriving to beat his an initial show in the US with Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant was in the strange place of having actually to describe himself to the authorities.

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“I had to prove that ns was contributing to the betterment the the American device somehow, which is kind of cute, really,” Plant says of this post-lockdown trip to Nashville. That is sitting in the city’s famous Sound Emporium studio with his collaborator, the bluegrass legend Alison Krauss. That is the same location where they videotaped their second, extremely anticipated record as a duo, advanced the Roof, prior to the pandemic placed the human being on pause.

Due to various restrictions, Plant had to gain special permission come get ago into the nation for this main of preparation and also promotion; Krauss, that points the end in a sarcastic huff, had to drive for just 10 minutes. “I had to current a form to landscape Security and also all that,” he says, sitting on a burgundy velvet couch in one of the facility’s dark, moody rooms. “Fifty-three years of coming right here … lock should have actually my number under by now.”


A sublime re-imagining ... Listen to Plant and also Krauss’s variation of Lucinda Williams’ can not Let Go, indigenous the new album.
Raise the Roof, the follow-up to 2007’s lot lauded debut LP raising Sand, might have operated as Plant’s immigration application. Fourteen years in the making – as lengthy as Led Zeppelin’s entire career – that is a sublime re-imagining of roots music traditions, from unsung English individual singers to contemporary torchbearers and also lost blues gems. Highlights include a miracle rework of the Everly Brothers’ Price the Love, i beg your pardon Krauss and Plant turn from harmonica-laced pop right into a sluggish burning lament anchored in Krauss’ infinitely emotive vocals; an exquisite, melodically joyful version of walk Your means by the early Led Zeppelin influence Anne Briggs; and High and also Lonesome, an initial written by Plant and their returning producer, T Bone Burnett.

It is a warm day and Plant has just got ago to the studio ~ above foot ~ grabbing a bite down the street. Nashville is a driver’s city, for this reason the 1.85-metre (6ft 1in) musician, through his silver- curls tossed loose in a ponytail, would have actually surely to be a roadside attraction to anyone cruising under Belmont Boulevard, were it no for the white mask obscuring his face. Krauss is cosied up on the couch in a quilted black color jacket, regardless of the late summer weather, a box of tea stashed in she tote. As soon as she talks, she bring away the mic nearby, as if by instinct.

The pair had tried numerous times to make a 2nd record, but nothing had stuck: the location is as a nod come the jubilation lock feel around finally acquiring the band back together. “You can’t wait 14 year to shot to acquire it right and also then placed it under the couch and say: ‘Well, that was good,’” states Plant. “You’ve gotta shout it out and also raise the roof.”


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‘None of this music is rock, the not about power and posture’ ... Plant and also Krauss. Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen/The GuardianIt to be a track by the Americana band Calexico that finally damaged the creative barrier. Krauss was driving in Nashville, listening to a shed CD – she is no au fait through making digital playlists – as soon as the song Quattro (World Drifts In) came on in ~ an intersection. “We’d send songs back and forth, and also you could hear the very same song in ~ a different time and it didn’t have actually the appropriate moment, for whatever reason,” Krauss says, “This one had such a sparkle on it. One song sets the atmosphere for every little thing – and also that to be the song.” She texted tree immediately. He, too, dropped in love through the lyrics. Their variation of the track opens the new record, just as the original opened up up the document to them.

Plant is together fascinated through border story as that is by tales from the American south. Calexico, called after the city whereby California and Mexico join, sing of immigrants fleeing every little thing they understand for the dream the a better life. “Where they space living is what they space playing. The coming out of the ground,” Plant states of the band, now based in Tucson, Arizona.

Ever due to the fact that he made elevating Sand in Nashville, tree spotting has come to be urban lore in the city. There to be the rumour the he resided in an apartment above an ice-cream shop in the eastern side; some people insisted they experienced him eat dinner when he was claimed to be on tour. Plant appears to take to the ar naturally, hanging the end at a traditional country-themed night referred to as Honky Tonk Tuesdays, grabbing a low-key mexican breakfast in ~ a location recommended by the musician friend Miller, or visiting a mural in Grimey’s record shop of man Prine, the so late songwriter Plant explained on social media together “the actual wordsmith”. The critical time he witnessed Prine, “he made part really funny man Prine comment about me being Frodo or Gollum”. The story cracks Krauss up.

The duo assembled part musicians native the elevating Sand sessions, including the guitarist Marc Ribot and the drummer Jay Bellerose, together with some new forces, such together Miller and also the famous jazz guitarist bill Frisell. Burnett insisted the no one obtain acquainted through the tune choices before entering the studio, to obtain “the freshest idea with the many life”, together Krauss put it.

I can’t wait 14 year . Otherwise the going to be a bit dicey for meRobert PlantShe remembers walking into the Sound Emporium because that overdubs and seeing Ribot through a collection of car keys, scratching them follow me his tool – a long method from the legacies of bluegrass, however she loved it. Top top the vault record, Burnett would certainly suddenly appear in a robe, brandishing a toy piano.

“They all have the combination of being so nuts and so tasteful at the very same time,” Krauss says. “Shocking. The shocking.”

“See, ns can’t buy right into that,” plant says, skeptical that nuts and also tasteful could coexist, at the very least in the genre indigenous which he emerged. “I’m British and a rock’n’roll singer.”

Plant and Krauss both enjoyed the exercise of trying come shake off who they have come to be – she the traditionalist, that the flamboyant frontman. “No decision to be made various other than lyric and also melody,” Krauss says. The blues isn’t her default style, but she wears that well. Plant, meanwhile, tried no to enter character or default to comfortable vocal tricks and signatures, however there is one track on the album that – thankfully – is particularly Plant. When the title, High and Lonesome, conjures up pictures of early Hank Williams and also tears top top acoustic guitars, the is far more like Led Zeppelin than weepy acoustic country.

Even when exterior their comfort zones, though, Krauss and Plant’s disparate people overlap perfectly. A previous interviewer, Krauss says, was figured out to uncover out if castle argue. “It was so funny, just: do you fight?” she says, chuckling. “Did any of you fight? walk T Bone fight?”


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‘Alison and I have actually something come live increase to’ ... Krauss and also Plant on phase at the Grammys in 2009. Castle won five awards. Photograph: mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images“We’re like Mork and also Mindy,” states Plant: one odd however harmonious couple.

They have actually proved the all musical legacies can satisfy in the middle if you dig ago far enough. Once Raising Sand came out in 2007, it was an outlier in a landscape entranced by watered down arena folk. Its songs, such together the blues singer little Milton’s Let her Loss Be her Lesson and Sister Rosetta Goes before Us by the alt absent singer Sam Phillips, served as a reminder the the roots of root music were far an ext diverse 보다 the emerging Americana genre could lead one come believe.

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Raising Sand won five Grammys, including album of the year, beating Radiohead’s In Rainbows and Viva la Vida or Death and also All His friend by Coldplay. The ide for advanced the Roof is the same, digging up unsung artist such together Louisiana’s Geeshie Wiley, and Plant’s an ext close-to-home influences, such together Briggs and also Bert Jansch. Plant claims with a laugh that once he plays their cover of walk Your means for Briggs, “she’ll most likely wag a finger at me around some stolen piece of timeless folk history purloined by part bloke with lengthy hair and also cowboy boots”.

What carry out we perform in ours quietest times, as soon as we have a music machine? we go to locations that really, really make us feel goodRobert PlantHe continues: “Alison and also I have actually something – about theory – to live increase to, as much as exactly how it resolved before. But the most crucial thing to carry out was keep a really interesting range of resources of song. Because what do we execute in our quietest times, as soon as we have actually a music machine? us go to areas that really, really make united state feel good.”

And that doesn’t want to feel good after months of lockdown and restrictions? Krauss recalls how, beforehand on, she had actually trouble even listening to old bluegrass; similarly, tree couldn’t hear new music – he invested the worst month of the pandemic pillaging his very own archive, recognize cassette recordings he plans to permit the release of only after his death. They promise the the next collaborative album – if over there is another – won’t take it so long, though. “I can’t wait 14 years,” states Plant, that is 73. “Otherwise that going to it is in a bit dicey for me.”

For now, the is enjoy it this long detour. “None the this music is rock, the not about power and also posture,” tree says. “How exceptional for me to have the ability to jump delivery so long back now. Yet I have actually a jetpack ~ above my earlier in situation I want to go back.”

That human is quiet in there, after all. ~ above the method out that the studio to meet Burnett and also the musician JD McPherson across town, plant stops and makes a joke around his “Viking finger”. “If i come native the land of the ice and also snow,” the says, a bit of mischief firing in his eyes, “I’ll it is in OK.”

Raise the Roof is released on 19 November on Warner Music. Plant and also Krauss will certainly tour with each other in 2022