Artist: Bonnie Raitt
Album: Dig In Deep
Label: Redwing Records
Release Date: 02/26/2016
Bonnie felt like strapping on her guitar, getting her road band together, and laying down enough tracks for a two year tour. Raitt approached these sessions with both a need to heal and to let loose, buoyed by the success of 2012’s Grammy winning effort, Slipstream. “I was depleted [after my parents and brother died], but like when your car runs out of battery and a friend pushes you, I got a push. My guitarist, George Marinelli sent me the track, “If You Need Somebody,” and I got the wheels going… The response from “Slipstream” was such a refreshing and unexpected boost,” says Raitt. “So going into this album, I had renewed energy. I mean, I love singing heartbreak ballads, and really intelligent singer-songwriter songs. But when you do those R&B and rock n’ roll songs, that’s the reason I’m out here doing this. That’s why I like to get up there.”
This release, like Slipstream, is on her own imprint. Long-time keyboardist Jon Cleary remains aboard for songwriting, but participates on only a couple of tracks. Equally competent veteran Mike Finnigan steps in for most of them, and will be part of her live band while Cleary pursues his own career. Otherwise, it’s the solid backing you’ve come to expect from the likes of Marinelli, bassist Hutch Hutchinson and drummer Ricky Fataar. Sprinkled among the five tunes Raitt penned are some interesting covers including “Need You Tonight” (INXS), a rave-up of “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes” (Los Lobos), and “Undone” (Bonnie Bishop). Her own tunes reveal some personal perspective. “The Comin’ Round is Going Through” is a political tune aligned with a Bernie Sanders kind of message. “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” speaks to her aforementioned losses. And interestingly enough, the ubiquitous Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz play on Joe Henry’s “You’ve Changed My Mind.” There are plenty of funky, greasy grooves that lend themselves to Raitt’s bottleneck slide and soulful vocals that are still strong even though you can just slightly detect some frayed edges. From the opener, “Unintended Consequence of Love,” you hear what might be the battle cry for those of us in our sixties, “We gotta find a way to resurrect our strut.”
This one comes with high expectations. Although nothing here is as riveting as her Dylan covers on Slipstream, the emotion in her ballads and the fervor that she still brings to her signature rocking tunes make Raitt is as solid as ever. Catch her on tour soon.