It’s a formula as old as Ella & Louis. Take two popular performers and put them together; if the music’s good and the chemistry is there, there’s a good chance you may wind up with a delighted, and growing, audience. A marketer’s dream, and for the artists, an opportunity to learn and create.
The latest “wave” of singer-songwriter vocal collaborations seems to have started with 2006’s All The Roadrunning, by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. While it didn’t win any awards, ATR was a success artistically and commercially, especially in Western Europe, where it charted at #1 and #3 in half a dozen countries. And it was a pretty great record. In fact, there was a follow up album, and a tour. Brit rock legend, American country starlet….meeting in the middle to make some nice American roots music. For a taste, check out If This Is Goodbye on Swedish television (youtube link). This song was based on the final cellphone calls made from Flight 93 on Sept.11, 2001.
A similar recipe was followed in 2009, this time with Robert Plant and Allison Krauss doing the crooning. Grittier, and perhaps less polished than Roadrunning, their album Raising Sand was also very good. And this time people noticed. It won the Grammy award for Album of The Year. Check out Please Read The Letter. (youtube link)
Other notable examples along these same lines?
How about Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris’ studio recording of Adams’ heartwrenching Oh My Sweet Carolina? (youtube link)
Or Jeff Tweedy and Leslie Feist on Wilco’s You And I? (youtube link)
But those were one-offs, you say. What about albums?
Well, how about She & Him? Beginning with 2008’s Volume 1, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s collaboration has just produced its’ fifth album(!). (youtube search)
And in 2013, Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones remade the classic Everly Brothers’ album Foreverly. (youtube search)
And now comes You + Me. Here we have Dallas Green (City and Colour, Alexisonfire) and megastar Pink, getting together at Pink’s rural studio for a week to write and record original songs. The album, Rose Ave., is a nice result, it’s a shame they didn’t put more effort into the group’s name. (youtube search)
What are some of your favourite collaborations? Please use the Comments to add your voice to the conversation.