Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (and my very short career as a music reviewer)

Saturday, October 27, 2007
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I’ve been asked before: “Do you ever try your hand at music reviews?” Only at Amazon.com, when I review CDs. I know I am very capable at book reviews, but, on the other hand, I know I would suck at music reviews. It’s just not my thing. plant_krauss.jpg

I love music, and to praise or criticize it is fun, but I don’t ever want to “review” it. In fact, I hate reading any music reviews. They are boorish, overwritten, and make the writer look ridiculous. I have never read a good music review.

So this album is all the rage right now: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss with their new release, Raising Sand, which is produced by T-Bone Burnett. People are gushing over it, as they do with any overproduced, alternative release, but I think it’s highly overrated. Here is why I hate music reviews: a Chicago Tribune writer says, “This is Burnett’s specialty: roots music from the first-half of the 20th Century soaked in 21st Century dread, resulting in a blend that defies genre boundaries.” Soaked in 21st Century dread?

He goes on to say, “Plant’s versatility as a vocalist is the album’s biggest revelation. Not just for the weathered, conversational grace that he brings to the proceedings, but in his ability to complement Krauss’ yearning soprano.”

Now Alison Krauss rules. She is truly one of my all-time favorites. And Plant’s vocals are surprisingly solid. They harmonize wonderfully, so what’s the problem? There are two or three kickass songs on the album, but after that, it becomes redundant as the same drowsy, pale beat repeats itself in almost every song. It’s at least as tiresome as the repetitive U2 guitar chords.

I find it irritating, even painful, to listen to the slow, aching, pseudo-bluesy beat paired with the strained vocals of Plant and Krauss. Plant and Krauss are tremendous vocalists, but this album just does not use their vocals in a manner that is advantageous to either of them. It would be like taking a top sprinter and sticking him in a marathon.

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