Two of the most powerful and unique voices in music merge again, 14 years after their last collaboration. I had only heard Raising Sand for the first time a few months ago and immediately fell in love with Plant and Krauss' gorgeously haunting take on Americana. I wasn't expecting any follow-up, but here we are. The duo has not lost a step, as Raise the Roof picks up right where they left off.
Elegantly melancholic, meditative, and sharp, this record works best when Plant and Krauss are harmonizing together. Plant's moody, sprawling voice and Krauss' higher-pitched heart-rending vocals intertwine together in a way that their close harmonies create almost a third voice. Mid-album tracks "Can't Let Go" and "It Don't Bother Me" exemplify this atmosphere, making sure the record doesn't drop off in the middle.
The duo has stockpiled some great folk, R&B, and country tracks—making sure to create their own perspective on the traditional—combing over everyone from Lucinda Williams to Calexico to Bert Jansch. And Krauss and Plant are aided by one of the most phenomenal back-up bands. T-Bone Burnett's production is understated; Marc Ribot's guitarwork is spectral; Jay Bellerose's percussion adds a deserving layer to the instrumentation. It's Plant's and Krauss' vocals who are the stars of the album, but they only get to that level with the brilliance of music behind them.
What's outstanding is that the band isn't just replicating the formula from Raising Sand. They're following that momentum, sure, but Raise the Roof is more of a continuation—an augmentation—of that first album's pensive hopefulness without being a retreading of it.