Two singers at the top of their game.

With all eyes and ears on the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion shows, it was with some surprise that 'Raising Sand' by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss was announced for release but its turned out to be a surprise of the most pleasant variety as the lead singer of the most highly anticipated shows of the year plays his part in this exciting and emotive record.

Of course, its not only about Robert Plant, the impressive Alison Krauss is also on show and if you aren't convinced by the thought of her being on this record, then her delivery on 'Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us' will change the mind of any non-believer. Hopefully it's a tribute to the ground-breaking female guitarist of the same name, one whom Roberts old band were more than acquainted with. If you thought that Oasis were skilled at borrowing other artists work, Led Zeppelin were the true originals of plagiarism.

Anyways, over a rustic background track with a ringing mandolin or similar instrument, one that would be at home in any French art-house film, Alison Krauss's vocals shine like a diamond in the dirt, strongly pushing the earthy feel of the record. Its very easy to fall in love with a female voice as honest and emotive as this, so a gentleman must doff his cap at the talent on show here. 'Through The Morning, Through The Night' is no different with Krauss handling a beautiful country ballad in a way that Gram Parsons or Emmylou Harris would offer up to critics to praise for decades to come.

At its heart, this is a dirty record, not in a vulgar manner, but it seems as though its came from the roots, been dug up from the ground. It feels alive and home-grown as the upbeat numbers sit happily beside the slow-paced melancholic number. It's a definite labour of love so perhaps there is more to Robert Plant splitting his work into two than meets the eye. This is a great record that deserves some recognition in its own right and okay, most eyes are going to be on the bombastic return of the Zep but when theres over 1 million people trying to get tickets for your show, theres got to be some residual benefit to your own record. Zeppelin are big business this year and if some extra people are going to hear this album because of it, then lucky them.

'Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)' has a swagger and a sound that borrows from everywhere that's ever been important in music since the 50s. The drums recollect the first dance and jive crazes, the music kicks in like the best Simon and Garfunkel track, the measured harmonies of the backing tracks would have shone on any 80s and collectively, it works. For all that's been mentioned, it's a simple song that's quite delightful, even twisting some dark lyrics about leaving your (former) loved one over its spiky tempo in a manner that can't fail to impress all those who love the darker side of pop. Theres even a few instances where Plant nearly slips into full Zeppelin freak-out vocal but manages to restrain himself before you can picture his open-shirt and strut in the studio. Perhaps its best to save that behaviour for the big money payers soon Robert but theres proof here that the singer can still raise his game and turn in a strong performance.

This seems to be where Robert Plants head is at so you have to wonder what the motivation behind the Led Zeppelin reunion is? Of course, money is at the forefront but the offer of huge money for that particular reunion has always been available, so why now and why when Plant has released an album that shows that he still has his mojo working. Or does he merely just want to work for the Mojo reader?

Its well rafted but not over polished, the steel guitars ring and folk and country sit hand in hand. It may get lost in they hype and hyperbole to come but this could well be one of the surprise hits of the year, such is the quality of the music and of the two leading performers.