Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are finally back on the road together, performing their new album “Raise the Roof”

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The story of why Robert Plant and Alison Krauss took so long to follow their acclaimed, Grammy-winning debut album, 2007’s “Raising Sand,” remains murky. Tap it on separate calls and you’ll be notified of the need to “take stock” or busy schedules or “wait until the time is right”. Alright, let’s go. But don’t blame us for wondering why these two, who sing so well together and get along clearly, took so long to start over.

In November they released ‘Raise the Roof’, produced by T-Bone Burnett, their long-awaited second album, featuring covers of songs by, among others, Merle Haggard, the Everly Brothers, Bobby Moore, Bert Jansch and Geeshie Wiley. . The couple are on tour with a stop at the Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 11.

We spoke to Plant on Zoom and Krauss over the phone. These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: I always see people say it’s such a weird combination. I’m not sure I agree. Robert has always embraced bluegrass and roots music. You were an MTV kid. You watched his solo stuff in the 80s.

Kraus: Well, the first time we talked about singing together was weird. What are we going to do in the world? Well, try it. Let’s just give it three days in the studio and see what we come up with? And it was just very, very lighthearted and I knew from our first meeting that he was a big fan of Ralph Stanley. And in the 70s, he was driving through Appalachia listening to one of my favorite records. Every time a bluegrass member asks me how he is and I tell him this story, he just loves it. If you know this record, “Clinch Mountain Gospel”, you know how it is.

Q: Robert, the Geeshie Wiley song “Last Kind Words Blues” is as haunting as they come. I remember hearing it for the first time in that “Crumb” documentary. have you Bring this to Alison?

Plant: Well, you know, this conversation could be like, who said what about when and who was playing bass? Who fetched tea for Bobby Moore while he tuned his saxophone? I was obviously aware of the song and I think it came up in a conversation with T-Bone, to be honest, because, like you say, it’s such a unique song.

Q: The first time you and Alison made a record, you seemed to listen to a lot of Gene Clark. This time we get two songs we know from Bert Jansch. They are sung in a very specific way. Very traditional English folkish.

Plant: If you listen to Jansch’s voice and you listen to Robin Williamson or someone like that du [Incredible] String Band, there’s a Gaelic bent to the way they sound. And the British folk scene is particularly specific and it doesn’t have the glissando and the kind of flat thirds, kind of blue notes that I’ve spent my life bathing in. So I have to think… how do I sing this? It is an interpretation. It’s not a tribute. It’s just a song from me. It’s a beautiful song (“Go Your Way”) that I brought to the table. Like with “I don’t mind”.

Q: Alison, Robert talks about how he’s a terrible harmony singer and yet you sing beautifully together. I would like to understand what he is talking about.

Kraus: He never sings the same thing twice, so he is very free, improvised, in the moment. Like a jazz musician who is constantly channeling something. Where I’m from, in bluegrass, everyone sings it very, very consistently so they don’t get beat up by their other singing partners.

Plant: She is master of her art and I am master of not doing the same thing twice. So it’s a collision. And we find that very funny. And even now, during rehearsals, I decide to take another direction. She looks at me, raises her eyebrows and starts laughing. We had the day off yesterday and she texted me and said, “You wanna go through those harmonies?” I said, “Not a chance.”

Q: Is it stressful trying to adapt as he changes the way he sings?

Kraus: There is no autopilot. Sort of where I grew up in bluegrass, you were very direct where you put the parts. You do not cross, you do not jump to the parts below. So it’s just a different thing. It’s like learning something new. It’s not stressful. Funny sometimes, but not stressful.

Q: Is there a particular song that you would say to, hey, if you hear us for four nights, it will sound different every time.

Kraus: I think any of them.

Q: What if “Raising Sand” hadn’t won all those Grammys and sold so well? What if it had only been a small album that few people knew about? Would you start over right away? Because I get it, Robert, you’re someone who doesn’t like doing the same things twice. Especially when someone says it might work.

Plant: Well, you know, I was training to be an accountant when I was 17, and it took six months. Then I fell in love with an Indian woman. I mean, you just… There’s so many things. If you can sing a note and keep it, you don’t stray too far from it and just see what you can do. Keep moving. So I left with Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller and Alison left. We saw each other from time to time. Always kept in touch.

Q: At the rate you go with Alison, the third album of the two of you will be released around 2036.

Plant: When will I be 88. Ha ha ha.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss perform June 11 at 8 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pky., Columbia, Md. $55-$175.


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