Rock, February 2022

hfnalbum.pngRobert Plant And Alison Krauss
Raise The Roof
Warner 0190296672194; LP: 0190296672200

Plant and Krauss approached the recording of Raising Sand in 2007 as a kind of see-if-it-works experiment, but the country artist and the former Led Zeppelin vocalist have a wonderful vocal chemistry, and this selection of country, folk and more is an absolute beaut. The songs are empathetically arranged and played, and producer T Bone Burnett gives it all a warm, inviting sound. On Lucinda Williams's 'Can't Let Go' they sing in unison, their harmonies evoking memories of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris on Grievous Angel. Bert Jansch's 'It Don't Bother Me' has a sinuous eastern feel with sonorous bass and silvery mandolin. Krauss sings lead in the verses and Plant joins her in the choruses to breathtaking effect. MB


The Curator
All Lombard Street To A China Orange
Cromerzone CZ00023 (two discs); LP: CZ00023LP (two discs)

Alistair Murphy aka The Curator is inspired by film noir here, but while 'We Go Down' has a late night feel, much of it is full of colour. His music is hard to categorise. Some songs introduce themselves as keyboard-based pop balladry – Murphy's dry, reserved voice evokes early Bowie and Peter Skellern – but all develop structurally with imaginative combinations of winds, strings and synths. The two sidelong pieces are the most ambitious: 'The Wrong Music', is a metaphorical exploration of stage performance, and on 'The Boss, The Siren, And The Sea', tales of business skulduggery are set to both full-band power play and abstract ambience. MB


Hedvig Mollestad
Tempest Revisited
Rune Grammofon RCD2223; LP: RLP3223

Norwegian guitarist Mollestad is a player of rare brilliance and in her power trio she allies the jazz technique of John McLaughlin with convoluted heavy riffing that wouldn't be out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. On last year's Ekhidna she concentrated on writing for a jazz-rock ensemble and Tempest Revisited is inspired by the music of compatriot composer Arne Nordheim. It's a stylistically diverse set, touching on rock, funk and jazz, with some intense soloing. The three saxophonists play sweetly on 'Sun On A Dark Sky' before her guitar leads the ensemble on a twisting course, while '418 (Stairs In Storms)' is delicate, melodic and full of space. MB


Nine Lives
Quartertone YOVACD1; LP: YOVALP1

Yova are Macedonian vocalist Jova Radevska and multi-instrumentalist Mark Vernon. The latter co-produced tracks on PJ Harvey's debut Dry and that album's remarkable rhythm section – drummer Rob Ellis and bassist Ian Olliver – are reunited here, and make their presence felt on the rotating patterns of the opening 'Moondog'. Radevska's approach is quite different from Harvey's – her voice has an edge but is sweeter and cooler – and their debut is shadowy and bluesy, with a hint of trip-hop. It invites comparisons with artists as diverse as Björk and John Cale, and a stellar band of guest players add colour and texture with strings, brass and pedal steel. MB