Raitt’s Latest LP Glows with Mature Confidence

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BonnieRaitt Dig in DeepBonnie Raitt
Dig in Deep
(Redwing Records)
In A Word: Assured

On her 17th studio album Bonnie Raitt makes what is no mean feat – melding her seriously credible blues, folk and rock roots with an adult pop appeal – feel easy and natural. Producing the set largely by herself with the support of her touring band, she comes up with a winning collection that compares favorably with all the fine past albums she’s done before with name producers.

Or in other words, at the age of 66, Raitt shows herself in full and firm command of her talents. And on much of Dig In Deep it sounds like she and the boys are having a ball. The bulk of this long-player are tracks that simmer and smoke with a range of rhythmic energy lit by fiery ensemble and individual playing.

She transforms – of all things – the worldwide INXS hit “Need You Tonight” into a slow-burning roots-funk rocker on which her and George Marinelli’s guitars slice and slash around each other and Bonnie’s voice beckons with the sensual allure of the full-grown woman she is. It’s hard not to shake your hips to the high-stepping shuffle of “What You’re Doin’ to Me,” a Raitt-penned original that glides along on a bed of piano and Hammond organ. “If you’re tiiired of waiting,” she beckons on “If You Want Somebody,” an assertive, swinging mid-tempo seducer. And Bonnie and the band tear it up on their rabbit-punching cover of the Los Lobos tune, “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shake,” with her razor-sharp slide guitar nearly scraping the scalp off your skull – just one of her many six-string accents that shine and sear like blow torches throughout.

And yeah, Raitt does dig in deep with the glowing embers of lamentation on the crackling ballad “Undone” and her subtly assured reading of the words of regret on the spare, note-perfect closing number, “The Ones We Couldn’t Be.” In an earlier radio world, the soul-inflected opener “Unintended Consequence of Love” would have enjoyed heavy airplay, and this set would rightly earn gold if not platinum precious metals. A winning confidence exudes from all 12 numbers here, and Raitt sings like she’s in full comfort within her own skin, investing every line she delivers with just the right emotional touch. Dig in Deep is a tribute to the benefits that can come with maturity and a sheer delight to listen to time and again. Long may Bonnie Raitt continue to run.

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Rob Patterson

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