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Album Review

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Pro-social Content

The haunting interplay of Robert Plant's and Alison Krauss' vocals—accented by T Bone Burnett's ethereal production—ponders love found ... and lost. The last track, "Your Long Journey," is arguably the album's most poignant as a man mourns the loss of his wife but is buoyed by the hope of reuniting with her in heaven ("God's given us years of happiness here/Now we must part/ ... But one day we will meet in heaven above/ ... And when I come we will walk hand in hand/As one in heaven in the family of God"). Explicitly Christian musings turn up on "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" as well ("Looking for the lamb that's hidden in the cross"). "Stick With Me Baby" finds a man pleading with a partner on the verge of leaving, and "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson" narrates the tale of a hard-livin' man who didn't realize what he had until it was gone. Other more melancholy tunes chronicle broken relationships ("Killing the Blues," "Polly Come Home," "Gone Gone Gone," "Trampled Rose"). And "Through the Morning, Through the Night" achingly sketches the pain of a husband whose unfaithful wife has abandoned him and her marriage vows ("The bond has been broken/The promise you gave/ ... But to know that another man's holding you tight/Hurts me, little darling"). "Nothin'" perhaps implies that a man once struggled with drug abuse, but he insists he's clean now ("And if you see my friends/Tell them I'm fine, not usin' nothin'").

Objectionable Content

"Fortune Teller" describes a man who falls in love with a fortune teller whose predictions about her customers' fates involve palm reading and crystal ball.

Summary Advisory

Celebrated producer and musician T Bone Burnett has a preternatural gift for making new music sound as if it's already 50 years old. That's definitely the case here. Listening to Plant and Krauss' Grammy-winning album feels like dusting off a lost record from a generation ago—a feeling no doubt aided by the fact that six of 13 tracks are were in fact written in the '50s and '60s. Old-fashioned storytelling is long on lessons about living, loving and losing but thankfully short on things that could be considered lyrically problematic.

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This T Bone Burnett-produced, million-selling effort debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart and was named Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards.

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Adam R. Holz

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