Bonnie Raitt, ‘Slipstream’ – Album Review
Bonnie Raitt‘s first new album in seven years, ‘Slipstream,’ finds her in fine form vocally and, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, in full command of her always tasteful guitar playing.
There seems to be more nuance and depth in Raitt’s lower vocal register now, adding even more emotion to her already legendary song interpretation skills.
This is particularly apparent on the two Bob Dylan songs — ‘Million Miles’ and ‘Standing in the Doorway,’ both from his 1997 late career highlight ‘Time Out of Mind’ — that appear on ‘Slipstream.’
In general, the material and her voice help make much of the album very emotionally resonant — she conveys a weariness at times, but also wisdom, gratitude, and sometimes a hard-won optimism.
The ballads and slower or midtempo numbers seem to connect particularly well, perhaps reflecting some of the tragic events Raitt has endured in recent years: losing her parents, brother, and very close friend.
Of course, there’s some very nice slide guitar work throughout. If there’s a sour note, it’s that some of the uptempo numbers are a little too polished – it’d be nice for these tracks to be a little looser and more ragged, instead of treading on “Dad rock” territory. The four Joe Henry-produced songs tend to be sparer and more organic, providing a much better setting for her talents.
Highlights include the project’s first single, a reggae-influenced cover of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Right Down the Line,‘ ‘You Can’t Fail Me Now’ (a Joe Henry/Loudon Wainwright III track); ‘Not ‘Cause I Wanted To;’ and our personal favorite, the Joe Henry-penned album closer ‘God Only Knows,’ which features gorgeous piano and powerful lyrics.
Watch Bonnie Raitt Perform ‘Used to Rule the World’ from ‘Slipstream’ at Jazzfest