Dig In Deep

Bonnie Raitt

Redwing Records, 2016

http://www.bonnieraitt.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/10/2016

Some gifted artists seem driven to experiment, to try on different musical guises in a perpetual quest for one that fulfills them. Others find the groove that they’re most comfortable in and keep finding ways to do what they do even better, to hone their craft until it’s so sharp it could slip between molecules.

The most remarkable thing about Bonnie Raitt’s new album Dig In Deep is that it’s both pretty much exactly what listeners have come to expect from her, and absolutely terrific. This is the sound of a gifted artist doing what she does best, supported by a crack band—her longtime touring unit of James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass), Ricky Fataar (drums), George Marinelli (guitar), and Mike Finnigan (keys)—that’s so casually confident you’ll never hear them sweat, whether they’re tip-toeing through the opening notes of a ballad or thundering toward the climax of a muscular blues-rocker.

As always, Dig In Deep features a tasty mix of Raitt originals and carefully chosen covers. Among the originals, opener “Unintended Consequence Of Love” is a natural standout, featuring Raitt’s woozy, silvery slide notes riding a bed of snappy, bluesy Hammond, with a strong funk undertone. “I’m calling on you baby, now or never / Let’s dig in deep and get out of this rut” sings Raitt to the lover she’s trying to rekindle the flame with.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Next up is the album’s biggest stretch, as she reaches into the core of INXS’ “Need You Tonight” and pulls out its heart, transforming a saucy stadium rocker into a sultry, steamy blues, a siren’s wail of pure desire. (The band might not be sweating after this one, but you will be.) A few songs later, she gives a less transformative but equally captivating reading of Los Lobos’ playful, sexy “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes” (“Lord, it makes me tremble…”).

The middle section of the album rolls on in a lower gear, through somber mid-tempo contemplation “I Knew,” clever, eloquent ballad “Alone With Something To Say,” and smoky New Orleans blues-rocker “What You’re Doing To Me.” After the aforementioned “Shakin’,” Raitt essays another fine ballad in “Undone,” a sad, slow breakup song full of regret that she sings the hell out of, with real tenderness in her voice, before capping it off with a stately slide solo.

“If You Need Somebody” and “Gypsy In Me” are another fine pair, the former a steady-on mid-tempo blues-rocker with stinging, jangly licks, the latter featuring a smoky late-night-at-the-club vibe and the inimitable Arnold McCuller on background vocals. “The Comin’ Round Is Goin’ Through” finds Raitt penning a sassy takedown of trickle-down economics, a protest song you can dance to, closing out with an extended, rangy jam all the way to the fade.

Dig In Deep finishes up with a pair of thoughtful ballads—the very pretty “You’ve Changed My Mind,” a leftover from previous album Slipstream’s sessions with Joe Henry, and the pretty solo-piano number “The Ones We Couldn’t Be.” Her fiery slide playing might be what she’s known best for, but nobody sings a gentle ballad full of regret better than Raitt: “I’m so sorry for the ones we couldn’t be.”

From thumping blues-rockers to teary laments, this is exactly the kind of music Raitt loves to make, and she makes it exceptionally well. Having set the standard in her genre, she holds herself to it and delivers another winning album full of heart, soul, and just the right amount of grit.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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