MUSIC REVIEWS: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Yelle

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Raising Sand

Buy it at Insound!

Whodathunkit? Legendary Led Zeppelin cat-caller Robert Plant teaming up with bluegrass’s favorite daughter, Alison Krauss, to put out a blues-and bluegrass-inflected collection?

But, that’s just what the duo did, releasing Raising Sand, an album that proves something extraordinary can happen when vastly different musicians hook up and do what they do best: make sweet music.

For those familiar with Plant and Krauss, it may come as a wonderful surprise that their meeting produced a startlingly great result. In general, the songs that work best, like “Killing the Blues,” feature the duo’s flawless harmonization and, true to Plant’s repertoire, fantastical or romanticized lyrics.

However, the standout track is “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” a bluegrass ballad so beautiful it’s hypnotic. Krauss’ vocals feature prominently on the track, which has a distinctive, almost exotic melody, and on which the instrumentalists stand back a bit, allowing the vocalists to shine.

Gregory Hyman

Pop Up
EMI France

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Yelle’s spunky new album Pop Up is a poppy mélange of keyboards, beats, and even a few whistles. Many tracks are so retro 80s, others are slow and sweet, while the rest have a real energy to them backed by lyrics that are cheered rather than sung.

Although the album is sung entirely in French, the language is so smooth and pleasing to the ear that it doesn’t really matter what she’s singing. When listening to the faster tracks on this album, I imagine sassy models walking fiercely down a catwalk, their eyes shooting right through you as they whip around. On the slower tracks, I’m shopping in a trendy clothing store, looking over the colorful array of clothes. On the slowest of the tracks, I’m in a café and just reading quietly to myself. Well-arranged, diverse, and stylish, Yelle’s new album is certain to please.

Christine Thelen

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