Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Robert Plant spotted in crowd watching Scott Matthews

Robert Plant was spotted among Scott Matthews fans who turned up to see the singer-songwriter's sold-out tour opener, at the Glee Club in Birmingham, England, on May 19.

Matthews, who opened for Plant and Alison Krauss last year on their tour of Europe, dropped his latest album, Elsewhere, in the U.K. on Monday, with a single called "Fractured." The album has a U.S. release date of June 2.

As mentioned here months ago, Plant guests on one album track, "12 Harps," which bears a resemblance to the Simon and Garfunkel take on "Scarborough Fair."

Plant did not sit in at the Birmingham concert, which Rita Maman of the Express and Star reports was a gesture "allowing the singer songwriter to enjoy his deserved place in the spotlight alone."

Midlands entertainment reporter Dave Freak, however, couldn't resist typing up a lot about Plant's guest vocal on the album. He writes:

... album highlight "12 Harps," featuring a guest appearance by Robert Plant, is a drifting slice of gentle psychedelic British folk-rock.

"We sent Robert the track as he was rehearsing in Texas. He got back and said he was really up for it, and two months later we got him into the studio. It really worked, singing together in the same room. We sat in the studio, jamming, and that made me more relaxed, it was like karaoke," Matthews laughs.

"We got the song together in two hours. We kept one of the early takes, to get that spontaneous thing. I think it’ll be a track that'll appeal to a lot of people. It’s very much in the Led Zep mold. I still shake my head when I hear it. How did I pull that off?"

It's a subtle performance from Plant, currently in the throes of a creative renaissance since 2005’s Mighty ReArranger, 2007’s lauded Raising Sand, with Alison Krauss, and Led Zeppelin’s all too brief reunion.

"One thing that struck me about Robert's voice is how natural it is. He doesn't explore the high register anymore, I was interested in the baritone of it, that Johnny Cash resonance. I worked with that softer element of my voice too, and the two tones work together, that's why the song is so good," Matthews says.

The Led Zepper was an early fan of the songwriter after [producer Gavin] Monaghan invited Plant to his studio to hear a few tracks. The singer was so impressed with Matthews that he insisted he open the European leg of his Raising Sand tour with Krauss.

"I started shaking when he asked me, personally," Matthews recalls of an impromptu phone call. "Me? Supporting my idol? He's such a down to earth guy, which speaks volumes about him personally. He makes you feel welcome. And he's one of the best singers around – no-one is better than him. When you hear Led Zep I, II and III, the raw energy in his voice is frightening."

Elsewhere is the second new disc this year to feature guest vocals from Robert Plant. He also sings with Buddy Miller on one track gracing the album Written in Chalk by Buddy and his wife Judy Miller.

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