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🌵 Sessions: Maren Morris – Humble Quest

Humble Quest (2022)

Maren Morris’s music is rooted in country, but she is comfortable performing R&B, rock, Americana and pop. Country has been flirting with pop as long as I can remember. Sometimes that flirtation works, but often it comes off forced. Not for Morris, she is a master at country pop. Her latest, Humble Quest (her third major label album release) makes it a country pop hat trick – she has it figured out.

Morris has songwriting credits on all the songs, but as is the practice these days, there are plenty of all star co-writers. She seamlessly can move between humor and poignancy.

The first couple of passes through the album, I heard a sameness, but about the fifth time through I picked up a very nuanced variety. In the age of singles, Morris has pulled off a rare feat: a genuine album. It is not sameness, but continuity.

The album is beautifully arranged and produced. I assume credit goes to producer Greg Kurstin who also contributed to Morris’ last album Girl. Kurstin has developed quite a track record, having been involved in the last two Adele albums along with working with Sia, Kelly Clarkson, Halsey, Beck, Paul McCartney, Pink, Lily Allen, and the Foo Fighters.

My simplistic definition of country music is that it is pop music for adults. Maren has created a masterful example of adult pop. This is Morris’ Golden Hour.

🌵 Sessions: Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

I had never heard of Big Thief until a recent episode of Indie Cast where cohost Steven Hyden raved about this album. I went to his Uproxx review:

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You for a few months, and it already feels like the kind of album that’s destined to be handed down from generation to generation, like Automatic For The People (R.E.M) or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Wilco). It’s music I know I will reach for on epic road trips or in the midst of profound grief. An all-timer. A masterpiece.”

That caught my attention. I gave it a listen and I liked it, but did not love it. But it is a grower and with each listen I liked it more and now I am hooked – if not a bit obsessed.

It is a wonderfully weird album. It is both tossed off and ambitious. I don’t know what to make of it, but I like it. I hear so many things: Radiohead, The Band, Bon Iver, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris – I will stop there – this is a deep album.

I liked it enough to buy a vinyl copy from Stinkweed Records in Phoenix. Tangent: Stinkweed is a nice little record store with a good selection of new vinyl. I did not do a deep exploration, but what I sampled suggested this is a well curated shop. Staff is friendly and without the usual record store pretensions. I will be back.

Although the Big Thief has a distinctive vocalist in Adrianne Lenker, this LP has a strong band vibe. I don’t know how to prove that point, it is just a feeling I have given how interesting the music conversation is between the players.

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is a double album that clocks in at one hour and twenty minutes. It sounds like a few versions of the band. Which is not surprising given the album’s concept. Per Wikipedia, the album was produced by the band’s drummer James Krivchenia, who conceived the concept of the album. The band would travel to four different locations: Upstate New York, Topanga Canyon in California, the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and the Colorado mountains. They would record at four different studios with four separate engineers, and go to each place with a specific sonic plan in mind. Krivchenia’s intent was to capture a full expression of Lenker’s songwriting and the band onto a single album.

The concept worked and this is a spectacular album. Despite different palettes, there is a cohesion to the album. The album has diverse dynamics: from quite acoustic tunes to loud electric jams – in essence Neil Young’s career.

For an interesting take on Big Thief check out this New York Times podcast where a critic, who is a hater, talks to two critic/fans.

🌵Catchgroove’s The Desert Sessions: Milestones 🌵

A few recent milestones in our Arizona adventure:

  • Purchased first ticket to a concert in Arizona – Bob Dylan at the Arizona Federal Theater (Phoenix)
  • Purchased my first LP for the new home – Lucinda Williams Lu’s Jukebox Vol. 6: You Are Cordially Invited… A Tribute to The Rolling Stones
  • Purchased a Bluesound Node streaming device for the desert stereo
Bob will perform in Phoenix on March 3, 2022

Dylan’s 2020 album, Rough And Rowdy Ways, was a late career masterpiece. After an obsessive few years with the Great American Songbook, I was starting to worry Bob had lost his muse. In the early 90s when he went down a similar rabbit hole with traditional folk, he came out the other side in 1997 with Time Out Of Mind (one of my favorites in his catalog). I assumed that was his last magic trick. But he did it again with Rough And Rowdy Ways.

Dylan toured last fall and the reviews were pretty good. Most importantly, as the tour went on he played more and more of Rough And Rowdy Ways. Unfortunately, he did not stop by the Twin Cities. But the tour is starting again and he will be commencing the next leg of the tour in Phoenix and I will be there.

Arizona Federal Theater

I am a longtime fan of Lucinda Williams. I first saw her in the late 80s in support of her 1987 self titled album at the 7th St Entry. During Covid lockdown she did a series of virtual live shows that were focused on an artist or genre. She has been slowly releasing them as physical media and downloads (no streaming). I have enjoyed her Tom Petty and Bob Dylan versions.

This album focuses on the Stones. Lucinda selected a nice mix of hits and deep tracks. Her band is top notch and her drawl, as always, is the perfect vessel for the material.

Bluesound Node

I said in the opening blog of the Desert Sessions that I would be dependent on streaming. I got through the first three weeks with a cheap Bluetooth device for the big boy stereo or AudioQuest Dragonfly Black connected to my iPhone. That is all behind me now with the ultimate upgrade: a Bluesound Node.

I have a Bluesound Node 2i back in Minneapolis. I love it and have grown dependent on it. I picked up the third generation Node (interesting branding to simplify the name for an upgrade) and believe it sounds a touch better. Without access to my large collection of CDs and LPs , this streamer is going to be essential to my musical sanity.

Bluesound Node, Croft Phono Integrated, Schiit Vali 2 and Grado SR80s (out of view)

Catchgroove – The Desert Sessions: AC/DC the Bon Scott years 1975-1979

We have been in Phoenix a little over a week now and, my first musical obsession in Arizona is, of all things, AC/DC – more specifically the Bon Scott version of the band. I haven’t listened to AC/DC in years. I was running some errands and I dialed up some driving music and on a whim I played Let There Be Rock (1977). It sounded so good and I was down the AC/DC rabbit hole.

My most vivid memory of AC/DC was seeing the concert film AC/DC: Let There Be Rock at the Skyway Theater in Minneapolis in the fall of 1980 with my buddy/roommate Marty. The showing was augmented with a nice concert PA system – it rocked. The movie was filmed on December 9, 1979 at the Pavillon de Paris in Paris, France, and also contains interviews with members of the band, including lead vocalist Bon Scott, who died shortly after filming.

In the US market, the debut of AC/DC was High Voltage, which was a compilation of their first two Australian releases. It only included two tracks from the Australian High Voltage release – “She’s Got Balls” and “Little Lover” – with the rest of the songs taken from T.N.T. It remains my favorite AC/DC album. It set the template for the sound and vibe. It includes my favorite AC/DC song “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).” It was a signature song for Bon Scott. Brian Johnson, who replaced Scott as AC/DC’s lead vocalist after Scott’s death in 1980, does not perform it, out of respect for his predecessor.

Next up was Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap the band third Australian release, but released in the US in 1981 after the death of Bon Scott and the success of Back and Black (which was a tribute to Bon). The titular track is a classic.

Let There Be Rock (1977) was an album I never owned physically, and so it is new to me, with the exception of “Whole Lotta Rosie.” As I stated in the opening paragraph of this post this was the album that hooked me into this recent AC/DC jag. Wonderfully trashy hard rock blues.

Powerage (1978) is an album I have a CD of, but never really got into, listening to it now with fresh ears it sounds great, but if I get the AC/DC itch I am more likely to listen to other albums.

Highway To Hell is a masterpiece and my second favorite album. It became AC/DC’s first LP to break the US Top 100, eventually reaching number 17, and it propelled the band into the top ranks of hard rock acts. Unfortunately, it was the last Bon Scott album.

Back And Black (1980). It was the first AC/DC album to enter my consciousness. It is my third favorite album by the boys. It is not higher only because it has been over-listened to. Unfortunately it doesn’t have Bon who had died in classic rock star fashion: per the coroner, Scott had died of “acute alcohol poisoning” and classified it as “death by misadventure.” The band does consider the album a tribute to Bon Scott.

‘74 Jailbreak is an EP released in the mid-80s and is previously unreleased (in the US) Australian material recorded. I had never listened to it until recently. Shows a punkier side of the band.

I am now working my way through the live material from this period, but I will save you from that rabbit hole.

What I like about AC/DC is that they are hard rock, but they are more toe tapping than head banging. Bon Scott can wail like Robert Plant, but can be as silly in his vocals as Keith Moon. They are kind of punk (in The Ramones sense of punk), but unlike most punks, bluesy. They found their lane and stuck to it – they have been playing the same schtick for 50 years and somehow it never gets old. Thanks Arizona for reminding me of their greatness.

Catchgroove: The Desert Sessions – THE VOYAGE

We drove from Minneapolis to Phoenix – per Google Maps it is 25 hours. We decided to break it up over three days as we had never traveled with our pup Margo.

Day one (1/6/22) was Minneapolis to Wichita. A fairly uneventful drive. The first hour was dicey out of Minneapolis as it was bitterly cold with some black ice on the road.

Day two was a little more interesting as we traversed the rest of Kansas, the Oklahoma Texas panhandles and into New Mexico. Our drive kind of followed the lifecycle of beef: grazing cattle, feed lots and finally to slaughter houses. We stayed overnight in Santa Rosa NM. In hindsight we were game for another few hours of driving. Concluding after the success of day one and day two we could have done the trip from Minneapolis to Phoenix in two vs three days.

Day 3 we set out early and watched the sunrise in the rear view mirror on our way to Albuquerque. Things continued to go well as we admired desolate New Mexico. With excitement we entered Arizona. Soon Google Maps alerted us of a route change due to road closures and we headed off I40 to Show Low. It was nice to get on a quiet two lane road and not have to compete with semis. We arrived in the quaint town of Show Low with streets named with clever gambling references.

After passing through the town of Show Low on US 60 the high-desert grassland was replaced by stately ponderosa pine trees. The ground was carpeted with a recent snow. It felt like we had transported to Colorado. It was beautiful. But soon we were in the Salt River Canyon. We were shocked to find ourselves on a terrifyingly yet breath taking beautiful route of ups and downs and and hairpin turns – all on the edge of the canyon- it felt like a driving error would be fatal. We had no idea what we had entered and when it would end. It was both exhilarating and exhausting. When we finally reached a rest area we were in great need of a little relief. The little detour went on and on for 90 minutes. It is one of the greatest drives I have ever been on and part of the thrill was it was unexpected. I assumed this was a legendary scenic drive. After the fact I googled it expecting it to be on various lists of classic drives – crickets! It was barely mentioned – even on Arizona sites. Maybe it is not that amazing – except for Midwest flatlanders. Highly recommend day trip out of Phoenix – not for the faint of heart.

A sample of the Salt River Canyon drive

We arrived at our friends Mary and Garvin’s house to stay the night (our new home didn’t have any furniture – a bed would arrive in two days). Our pup Margo enjoyed their backyard after being cooped up in a crate for three days. We enjoyed a warm (by Minnesota standards) January Phoenix late afternoon.

We “moved” in Sunday 1/9/22. Moving in meant unpacking our SUV, unpacking 7 boxes we had sent via UPS and a Target and Costco run. We have no furniture. We were too enthusiastic to leave and so we stayed the night and camped, that is, we slept on our bedroom floor.

Monday a bed and couch arrived – luxury. I went to the cable store to pickup equipment for cable and internet. Bought a TV and went home and set it up. By Monday night we were on the couch and watching Georgia beat Alabama. We went to bed on our new mattress and a bed never felt so good. We had officially arrived in our Arizona home.

P.S. on the way down we saw the following animal crossing signs: deer, cattle, elk, caribou and my personal favorite: beware of ass crossing:

Catchgroove: The Desert Sessions – PREFACE

I am about a year from retirement. On January 6, I turned 63. Laura and I have lived in Minnesota our entire lives. More specifically, we have lived in the same 10 mile radius our entire lives. We are about to embark on a new adventure – we have purchased a second home in Phoenix Arizona. Our plan is to become snowbirds: summers in Minneapolis and winters in Phoenix.

The Desert Sessions will chronicle this adventure in Arizona with a special emphasis on the music I am listening to in the desert. See also my Instagram @catchgroove for more frequent posts.

I am not going to complain about the financial challenges of owning a second home, but I am having to make sacrifices with my vinyl habit for a bit. But thankfully there is streaming – my Methadone.

I have been seriously collecting physically music since 1977. First vinyl LPs and by the mid-80s CDs. Back you did not have much choice but to buy physical media. The radio was limited. You could borrow LPs or CDs and copy to tape (cassettes), but that was dependent on the quality of your friends.

The Minneapolis listening loft

Cassettes had the advantage of being portable – in cars, boom boxes and Walkmans. They were the tool by which you could “file share”. I never had 8 Tracks.

CDs had the advantage of no surface noise, reasonable durability, and once buffering solved motion skipping, portability. Another advantage of CDs is you could get great sound from mediocre equipment. CDs also raised the price of albums – CDs were roughly three times the cost of vinyl records. At first this increased cost was justified: albums had to be remastered, manufacturing couldn’t meet demand, distribution and retail had to adapt to a new size of product, etc.

File sharing, iPods, and MP3s made music free and portable. The free part required you to ignore the fact you were stealing more than sharing. Although stealing was easier to justify given the unjust pricing of CDs (too expensive). MP3s sounded like shit, but hey connivence has a price. The Apple model of buying songs digitally never appealed to me (almost as expensive as CDs for a frictionless product – except you could by songs vs. albums).

Streaming made things easier, accessible, ethical (legal is a better term), and cheap. Initially we had to deal with MP3 quality, but that is behind us now with high resolution streaming. We now have it all: portable, easy, cheap, accessible, audiophile sound and legal. The only downside is the artist get screwed – but the artist always gets screwed.

I listen to high resolution streaming (via Tidal) more than any other medium. Yet I still buy vinyl – why? It is complicated. That will have to wait for another post.

I assume the next few months I will be focused on streaming as it will be awhile before the Arizona crib is vinyl friendly – acquiring a chair to sit in will likely be more important than the latest release on wax. Eventually I assume I will check out the local record store scene. I will hack my two channel stereo into the built in ceiling mounted speaker system. I brought a starter LP collection to Phoenix – kind of like sourdough. I selected albums that are not available on streaming services – more about those albums later.

I look forward to sharing this next chapter in our lives over the next few months.

In ceiling speakers from the previous owners

Catchgroove’s 2021 Favorites

When I look at my favorites of 2021 I see a nice mix of old favorites and new (to me) artists. I am not sure if there is a theme or not, but I see a thread: jams. I don’t pretend that this is a best of list, merely my favorites, formed by, my not particularly broad, musical taste. Here is the top 10 followed by “honorable mentions” in no particular order:

#1 Tedeschi Trucks Band featuring Trey Anastasio – Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’) link. I like it better than the original.

#2 Pat Metheny Side Eye V1.IV NYC. I had the privilege of seeing Metheny’s hot young trio twice: once before the pandemic and once recently. This recording is the best souvenir I could have. link

#3 Prince Welcome 2 America link. The vault excavation continues – this time its a whole album that is so on point politically for our times, that it turns out the purple one was a prophet!

#4 Bob Dylan Springtime in New York link. Dylan’s much maligned 80s work is fleshed out and recast for the genius chapter of his catalog I always felt it was. This is the Dylan I was experiencing in real time in my early 20s.

#5 Goose Ted Tapes 2021 link. A new band to me. Instrumental space jam.

#6 The War On Drugs: I Don’t Live Here link. Do yourself a favor and listen on a good pair of headphones.

#7 Steven Wilson – The Future Bites link. This the first album by Wilson or any of his other projects (e.g, Porcupine Tree) that I have listened to. It has opened a wonderful rabbit hole. It sounds like a modern Moody Blues or Pink Floyd.

#8 Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising The Roof link 14 years after Raising Sand, the pair have reunited with producer T-Bone Burnett for a sequel and proof that Raising Sand was not a fluke.

#9 Floating Points/Pharaoh Saunders & The London Symphony Orchestra Promises link. Very cool concept: electronica musician joining forces with legendary octogenarian jazz musician backed by a symphony orchestra. It totally works.

#10 Brandi Carlile In These Silent Days. A worthy follow up to her breakthrough. link

Honorable Mentions– in no particular order:

Bluesound Node 2i link. In the streaming age a dedicated streaming device (a streamer) is a must have component for an audiophile. Life changing seems a little dramatic, but this has been a great addition to the big boy stereo. I have to admit I listen to more hi-res streams than LPs and CDs now. It brings the convince of an iPhone Bluetooth connection with the audiophile quality of a computer hooked to a DAC. Tidal MQA is the service of my choice.

Daniel Lanois – Heavy Sun link. This is Lanois’ (producer of Bob Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Emmylou Harris, and Robbie Robertson) take on gospel music. It is featuring the Hammond organ of Johnny Shepherd, sometime organist at Zion Baptist in Shreveport, Louisiana. Not surprising, Lanois does not play it straight. His take on gospel music has hints of reggae and electronica. As the kids like to say: pretty dope.

Charles Lloyd & the Marvels – Tone Poem link. Lloyd’s late career resurgence with jazz/Americana continues. Get it on vinyl – Blue Note’s Time Poet series highlights how great the medium can be.

Greta Van Fleet – The Battle At Garden’s Gate link. I could care less that they are derivative. It’s only rock ‘n roll and I like it!

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Way Down In The Rust Bucket link. A fantastic live album from a warm up show for the Ragged Glory tour (1990).

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Barn. I have not had a chance to give this album a proper review. You can’t go wrong with Neil and the Horse. There are a few clumsy political songs but overall tasty.

Lucinda Williams Lu’s Jukebox series. Lucinda is the perfect person to cover Petty and Dylan. link. Not available on streaming services.

Kacey Musgraves Star Crossed. Another worthy follow up to a big album. link

Billie Eilish Happier Than Ever link. How does the biggest teen pop star in the world follow up a huge record? With a wonderful adult album that is an artist step forward.

John Mayer Sob Rock. Mayer brilliantly embraces yacht rock. Hidden in the sugar are tasty guitar licks. link

Gary Louris Jump For Joy. Louris and The Jayhawks have always had a soundboard fader where they slide between Americana and the British Invasion. This release is a slide towards the British Invasion. If you like McCartney, you will like this.

Black Keys Delta Kream link. The album celebrates the band’s roots & features songs by R.L. Burnside & Junior Kimbrough. The opening track is the blues standard “Crawling King Snake” (a hit for John Lee Hooker, but the Keys take a Junior Kimbrough approach).

Pat Metheny John Scofield I Can See Your House from Here reissue link. Originally digitally recorded (88.2 kHz/24-bit) in 1994, Blue Note remastered it for vinyl and somehow made it better.

Ron Miles Rainbow Sign link. This is a 2020 release, but I did not discover it until 2021. There are so many great jazz artists that never get heard. Thank goodness I got to hear this album.

Adele 30 – The first cut sounds like schlock, but the rest of the album is brilliant. She has had 4 great albums in a row.

Jackson Browne Down Hill From Everywhere – I continue to be amazed that classic rockers continue to put out quality material in their 70s. Nothing new here, just a craftsman continuing to craft excellence.

Jerry Garcia Band – this 1991 album is one of my favorite albums. Link. Finally reissued on vinyl this year. It was supposed to be a Record Store Day release, but quality issues forced it to be pulled. But it finally made it to market by year end.

Arlo Parks Collapsed Sunbeams link. I don’t like having to label music, but it is a useful way to explain what an artist or band sounds like. For Arlo Park I would call it “folk soul.” It has the intimacy and simplicity of folk music and some subtle funk and hip-hop vibe to give it soul.

FINNEAS – Optimist. I had no interest in this (producer solo albums typically suck) until I listened to an interview/podcast with him and he was fascinating. I gave it a listen and it was good. I shared it with my wife and her take was it sounded like a combo of Harry Styles and Father John Misty. Pretty perceptive take – FINNEAS is a huge FJM fan.

Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker 4 LP Super Deluxe Edition I am a Crowes fan and picked up the CD back in the day when this was a huge album. This reissue includes the original album, 3 never-before-heard studio recordings; 2 unreleased demos from the band’s early incarnation as Mr. Crowe’s Garden; B-sides; a spectacular, high-energy 14-song unreleased concert recorded in their hometown of Atlanta, GA in December 1990; reproductions of an early Mr. Crowe’s Garden show flyer, setlist and tour laminate; a 4″ Crowes patch; and a 20-page book with liner notes by David Fricke.

Patti reminded me, no reprimand me, about the importance of live music! Transcendent. Link.

That’s a wrap for 2021.

Lucinda Williams – Lu’s Jukebox Vol. 3 – Bob’s Back Pages: A Night Of Bob Dylan Songs

Lu’s Jukebox is a six-volume series of mostly full-band performances recorded live at Ray Kennedy’s Room & Board Studio in Nashville, TN in 2020. Each volume features a themed set of songs or tribute to an artist curated by Lucinda Williams.

Earlier this year I picked up the Tom Petty volume of Lu’s Jukebox. That was great, but this Bob Dylan volume is even better. I am not sure why, but here are a few reasons:

  • Dylan’s music lends itself to interpretation by other artists
  • I am more of a Dylan fan than a Petty fan
  • Lucinda may be more emotionally connected to Bob
  • Lucinda’s murky, swampy and bluesy arrangements are not that far from Bob’s musical modus operandi the last couple of decades

But another reason I like this collection is that it is a great selection of Dylan. Lucinda has avoided the obvious and has gone down the deep cut route – focusing on the back half of his career. Below is the track list:

  1. It Takes A Lot To Laugh
  2. Everything Is Broken
  3. Political World
  4. Man Of Peace
  5. Not Dark Yet
  6. Meet Me In The Morning
  7. Blind Willie McTell
  8. Tryin’ To Get To Heaven
  9. Queen Jane Approximately
  10. Idiot Wind
  11. Make You Feel My Love

As mentioned earlier, Lucinda wraps the songs in slow, murky, and swampy arrangements. Lucinda’s vocals are her usual sassy slur – a perfect proxy for the bard’s snarl.

Unfortunately, Lu’s Jukebox is not available on streaming services. You can buy it physical at your favorite record shop or get digital files from regular sources (e.g. Amazon).

If you are a Lucinda fan, this is a must have. If you are Dylan fan – especially late era – you will dig this album. Lucinda’s interpretations are fantastic.

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

This might be the most underrated great Wilco album in their catalog. It arrived in the shadows of the artistic and commercial successes of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and A Ghost Is Born. It was a great simplification of their sound – they shed the sound effects of the two previous albums in favor of guitar histrionics of new member Nils Cline.

Nils Cline is an amazing guitar player and bandleader in his own right. He is a great addition to Wilco. Cline has a skill that most guitar heroes don’t have: he knows how to complement a song with his solos.

As rock critic Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) recently pointed out, when swooning about this album, he noted that this is when the Wilco lineup solidified and that lineup has been in place for over 20 years now:

  • Nels Cline – guitars
  • Mikael Jorgensen – keys
  • Glenn Kotche – drums
  • Pat Sansone – multi-instrumentalist
  • John Stirratt (original member) – bass
  • Jeff Tweedy (original member) – guitars

This album has quiet folky ballads and loud rock & roll – all melodic AF, perfectly arranged, with tasteful solos, and Tweedy’s vocals are as soulful as he gets.

The album boasts a Wilco staple: “Impossible Germany” – a fixture at every live show I have seen since this album came out – an excuse for Cline to shred. But the whole album is great, it has a totally 70s vibe. There’s George Harrison/Beatles, ZZ Top boogie, but mostly Wilco being Wilco.

If you are not familiar with Wilco this is a great introduction. If you are familiar with Wilco, but this missed your radar, check it out. If you are a Wilco fan – you already know.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising The Roof

I loved 2007’s Raising Sand. It was a genius move to pair Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant with bluegrass/country royal Alison Krauss. Producer T Bone Burnett (one of my favorites – his production credit almost guarantees an album I am going to love) crafted a perfect recipe from two amazing ingredients. The combo of Burnett, Plant and Krauss are back for a successful sequel.

When Led Zeppelin tragically ended with the death of drummer John Bonham in the fall of 1980, I assumed that Jimmy Page would have been the guy with amazing post Zeppelin career. But it is Robert Plant that has had the more interesting post Zep career. He has created a wonderful stew of the blues, rock and roll, folk, world music and electronica. Raising Sand leveraged all of that with Krauss’ angelic voice creating an album of classic Americana. It was so successful (platinum selling and winning Album of the Year at the 2008 Americana Music Honors & Awards and at the 2009 Grammy Awards) that I assumed we would never see a sequel – Plant hates to repeat himself.

Raising The Roof is more of the same and that is OK with me, more of the same means:

  • Perfect song choices
  • Brilliant arrangements
  • Magic harmonies
  • And musical joy

We needed Plant and Krauss to “raise” some more and they have delivered another masterpiece. The first album was a bit more of Krauss’ country and the new one more of Plant’s late career hybrid rock. It is the perfect sequel.

Some great background on the album is in this podcast. Includes an interview with Plant and Krauss and examples of source material for the songs.