It seems an unlikely pairing, the Black Country Plant and the Queen of Bluegrass, but hey, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn and Jack White, so what's new? Throughout his almost 40 year career, Plant has been a restless spirit and this album is a celebration of his diversity.
It is difficult to categorise this album which is an eclectic mix of delta blues, acoustic blues, alternative country and even folk rock, but somehow producer T Bone Burnett makes it work. He has taken the pair through a selection of thirteen well chosen songs and there isn't an ounce of filler on the album. Burnett has given it a warm, appealing sound and the voices of Plant and Krauss blend effortlessly together on such tracks as Killing The Blues and Stick With Me Baby. The latter sounds almost like the Everly Brothers with a chiming guitar propelling the melody.
There are two Gene Clark songs, Polly Come Home and Through The Morning, Through The Night and are given fine, haunting, interpretations that Clark himself would have been proud of. Plant gets to rock a little on his driving take of the Everly's Gone, Gone, Gone, which sounds nothing like the original!
The Plant/Page collaboration Please Read The Letter translates readily into a country styling whilst Nothin', sounds like late Zeppelin with Krauss's fiddle soaring above the electric distortion. But, for me, the finest moment on the album is Sister Rosetta with Krauss's gypsy fiddle and haunting vocal making this song a restrained, but compelling masterpiece.
If you are a fan of Krauss's fiddle, you might be disappointed to find that she only gets to play it on two tracks, but there is much to compensate with her mature and intelligent interpretations. Plant fans too, will not be disappointed in this latest chapter of his voyage of discovery.