Plant-ing The Idea: How The Golden God and Soccer Banter Brought Alison Krauss To Def Leppard’s New Album

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 29: Inductees Rick Allen, Rick Savage, Joe Elliott, and Phil Collen of Def Leppard perform at the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony – Show at Barclays Center on March 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Def Leppard’s 12th studio album, Diamond Star Halos, drops May 27. Chock full of huge hooks and catchy riffs the band has become famous for, the album also includes a few surprises, most notably with a prominent guest vocalist on two tracks, Grammy-winning bluegrass singer and noted diehard Def Leppard fan Alison Krauss. She lends her talents to two tracks, “This Guitar” and “Lifeless,” which the band says may not have come to light without the pandemic providing the chance to work on more experimental material, remotely.

See: Def Leppard Cover Story

Singer Joe Elliott explains:
Coincidentally, my football team (Sheffield United) were playing Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup, who happen to be Robert Plant’s football team. He texted me, “NA NA NA NA NA,” because they won, you know? [laughs]. Then he was like, “What are you up to, kiddo?” I said, well, don’t tell anybody, but we’re making an album. And he said, “Oh, well, I’m gonna have to tell Alison,” because he was working with her. “And you’re annoyingly her favorite band.” So she got word from Robert and her manager got word from ours because they were talking about something else, and just mentioned that we were recording.

So we got into the fact that she’d kind of like to do something on the record, and OK! We had these two songs that were country-ish, I suppose, and decided to send both of them to her to listen and pick one. Within about half an hour, she texted me back and says, “I love them both. I can’t really choose.”

So without telling anybody else in the band because of either the eight-hour time difference or, you know, it was too good of an opportunity to miss, I just said, well, do you wanna do ‘em both? She said yes. So then I text that she’s into doing them both and everybody was fine. Everything was totally organic and it just worked in our favor. The color that she added to those two songs, turning them almost into like Queen-type tracks, it expanded our entire palette on this record from what people might expect out of Def Leppard – stadium, arena anthems or whatever. But this other material is the quantum-leap stuff.