The pairing of the wily old tomcat and the classy country thrush turns out as magically in reality as it seemed unlikely on paper. Working with producer T Bone Burnett, whose impeccable taste in material (from Mel Tillis to Tom Waits) and players (from spry folkie Mike Seeger to axeman supremo Marc Ribot), guides these two inhabitants of different worlds toward a fertile common ground.
The spacious, burnished settings – which rock, despite the subtlety of the performances – allow Plant to overwhelm without raising his voice above a near-whisper on an epic staging of Townes Van Zandt’s “Nothin’”. The partners’ close harmonies are especially ravishing – intimate as Gram & Emmylou on Gene Clark’s “Through The Morning, Through The Night”.
This crew definitely needs to stick together.