In a strategy successfully tried before by Nanci Griffith in Other Voices Other Rooms, the collaborative album Raising Sand leaves the songwriting to vintage American culture, and allows the singers to focus on interpretation. The piercing sweetness of Alison Krauss carries the album, and always seems to avoid the sentimentality to which Nanci Griffith is occasionally prone (think Love at the Five & Dime).
But the subduing of Robert Plant is the album's most curious feature. He comes out of the cage every once in a while with echoes of Led Zepellin vocals (towards the end of Gone Gone Gone), but it's Krauss who gets most of the attention. Negatively, the album can be seen as a battle of the sexes in which woman wins. Positively, it's a metaphor for a delightful, fun marriage; but one in which Plant has married up.
All in all, this is the perfect album with which to sucker your average Zeppelin-revering hipster into the more domesticated musical tastes appropriate for one's later twenties, thirties and beyond. Plant is the bait, but Krauss is the hook.