Alison Krauss is a master at slipping into musical styles.
As a singer, musician and producer, the bluegrass star has worked with artists as diverse as Sting, Brad Paisley, James Taylor, Phish, Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson. Her latest project, with former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, might be her most ambitious yet.
Produced by T Bone Burnett and released last week, "Raising Sand" is a dark, whispery record that finds them interpreting the likes of Townes Van Zandt, the Everly Brothers, Mel Tillis and Tom Waits.
"I think of it as a window into some other world," she says of her collaborations. "You take away something by watching someone sing and watching them do something they were naturally born to do."
Plant, who still wears a shaggy mane of curls, says Krauss and Burnett set the tone for the new record.
"I think my vision was a little more lightweight," he says, sipping hot tea. "Alison wanted something more serious, with more color and shade."
What the record is not is yet another predictable duets album. Plant and Krauss harmonize over a dreamy, at times eerie, soundscape that's different from most anything they have done on their own. It's neither rock, nor bluegrass.
"The idea was to take them both out of their comfort zone. To take us all out of our comfort zones," says Burnett, who selected the musicians and most of the 13 songs, which includes a composition by Plant and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page called "Please Read the Letter" from their 1998 album "Walking Into Clarksdale."
Both singers had to reach. Plant had to sing harmony something he'd never done before. Krauss had to sing tunes that didn't always fit her lyrically.
"We were dealing with a lot of classic songs, and I didn't want to mess with that," she says. "That's why we didn't change the gender on some of the songs. We wanted to keep the integrity of the song. So I had to stretch to sing something that wasn't comfortable. It was a great experience."
Read more at Yahoo! News