Music

Bonnie Raitt: Dig in Deep

One of the most dependable artists of her generation, the road and the music are linked indelibly to Bonnie Raitt’s identity. And we’re all the better for it.


Bonnie Raitt

Dig in Deep

Label: Redwing
US Release Date: 2016-02-26
UK Release Date: 2016-02-26
Amazon
iTunes

To some degree, you know what you’re getting with a Bonnie Raitt album, post 1989’s Grammy-winning Nick of Time. A slick studio portrait on the cover, and a solid collection of adult contemporary blues-rock with songs of love, lust and longing, including at least a couple of heart-worn breakup ballads.

It’s all not too rough around the edges, yet not too smooth either. Because that’s just it with Raitt; no matter how far down the line she is from the wide-eyed young blues acolyte who recorded her first album way back in 1971 at the age of 22, there’s still a soulful grit and spark in her vocals and guitar playing that belies the years or any concessions to commerciality on the way.

With her latest, Dig in Deep, she has indeed dug in deeper, polishing and perfecting what she does so well, and sounding like she’s still enjoying it as much as in those early years. She even throws a curveball on this one, with a totally reworked version of INXS’s 1987 hit “Need You Tonight”, which removes the jangle and amps up the sultriness, bringing the song’s R&B groove more to the fore, as well as showcasing her killer slide guitar playing.

“Need You Tonight” is one of seven songs on the album written by others, which is actually a less than normal number for Raitt (neither of her two previous albums included any songs penned by her). She’s in a creative period these days, though, and the five tracks she wrote or co-wrote easily stand with the rest.

Lead track “Unintended Consequence of Love”, a co-write with pianist Jon Cleary , is not, as the title suggests, a teen pregnancy warning but deals with middle-age concerns, specifically a long-time couple trying to rekindle the romance in their relationship. Raitt sings about finding “a way to resurrect our strut”, and the funky groove the band lays down under her confident and fiery vocals points the way.

Bonnie Bishop, a favorite songwriter of Raitt’s, contributed “Not ‘Cause I Wanted To” to Raitt’s previous album Slipstream. That song won a Grammy, and Raitt’s recorded another bittersweet Bishop ballad, “Undone”, for Dig In Deep. “Undone” and the last two tracks, Joe Henry’s “You’ve Changed My Mind” and her own “The Ones We Couldn’t Be”, are tender, delicate ballads possessed of an inner strength. On a mostly high energy album, these tracks are offset and so shine a bit more brightly than they may have otherwise. “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” is an especially poignant solo piano ballad which deals with regret and the deaths of her parents and brother over the last few years.

“Gypsy in Me” is the first single, and it recalls the road life wanderlust lyrics of her earlier “The Road’s My Middle Name”, from that aforementioned career landmark Nick of Time. Aided by her crackerjack band, the song is a steady, thumping blues and shows that she’s not slowing down one bit. One of the most dependable artists of her generation, the road and the music are linked indelibly to Bonnie Raitt’s identity. And we’re all the better for it.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image