They reduced the songs to lyrics and melodies and intuitively reconstructed them in the studio, often around the sparse and subtle beats of Bellerose. They’ve taken “Trouble With My Lover” from a major key to a minor key, and Krauss trades Harris’s New Orleans soul resilience for a New Appalachian complaint, dwelling on the loneliness and suspicion of betrayal of the song.
Krauss chose “Going Where the Lonely Go”, a dismal ballad that Merle Haggard released in the 1980s. Plant took the opportunity to record a soulful song he had been singing since he was a teenager: “Searching for My Love” , by Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces. He also brought in material from the British folk revival of the 1960s: the stoically uncompromising “It Don’t Bother Me” by Bert Jansch, which brought out the provocative side of Krauss; and Anne Briggs’ Go Your Way, the troubled farewell song from a woman to a soldier she may never see again.
At one of the album’s extremes, Plant unleashes his Led Zeppelin whine and echoes “Kashmir” in “High and Lonesome,” a song born out of a studio jam session. Burnett and the rhythm section were playing with a Bo Diddley rhythm. Plant had his book of potential lyrics with him. The title is an ironic country cliché; the song is not. It’s both biblical and bluesy, asking yourself, “If I were to lose my soul, would you still take care of me?” “
At the other end of the dynamic scale is “The Price of Love”. The Everly Brothers’ own version is an exuberant two-minute stampede, topped with a harmonica, though they sing about the bitter regrets of a cheater. Plant, Krauss, and Burnett cut the song to half speed and removed any distraction. The track opens with half a minute of quasi-ambiance as the instruments arrive quietly: a drone from bowed bass, shakers, a distant violin, finally a few guitar notes before the rhythm and the chords solidify. and Krauss arrives as an accusing specter: “You won, don’t forget,” she warns. By taking their time, they concentrate the essence of the song. And as they did with “Raising Sand”, they calmly challenge the impatience of 21st century pop.
The song “kind of forms in front of your ears,” Plant said. “When people put stuff on the radio now, I think you have about 16 seconds or even less before you do a chorus. But again, we are fishing in another basin. In fact, we don’t even fish. We’re just trying to swim.