Unlike most of her contemporaries, Bonnie Raitt is as good a guitar player, singer, performer and recording artist today as she was in 1971 when she released her self-titled debut album. Over 40 years later, Raitt's Slipstream, her 16th studio release and her first since 2005's Souls Alike, is an inspirational, blue-based romp through 13 songs written by everyone from Bob Dylan to ex-husband Michael O'Keefe to Raitt herself. After a long absence from the recording studio and the world's stages, the Grammy-winning Rock And Roll Hall of Famer has picked up from where she left off — putting Slipstream out on her own terms, on her own Redwing Records.
Raitt gets downright feisty on Randall Bramblett's "Used To Rule The World" with some tasty guitar interplay between her, George Marinelli and John Lee Schell. Having other players like keyboardist Mike Finnigan (who's played with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Crosby, Stills & Nash) and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, as well as Raitt's own band, broadens the scope immensely for a wide variety of songs.
The reggae-flavored cover of Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down The Line" is already getting major exposure via Raitt's first new music video in 14 years. The best thing about it is how effortlessly the singer slips into the tune, making it all her own. A haunting version of Dylan's "Million Miles" is another guitar orgy featuring Frisell, steel guitarist Greg Leisz, and Raitt. Meanwhile, the singer steadies herself over the cool melody of "Down To You," slows the pace for the confessional "Not Cause I Wanted To," and courts speculation by reading the lyrics penned by O'Keefe to "Marriage Made In Hollywood."
Frisell and Leisz rejoin Raitt for "Standing In The Doorway," another Dylan track from 1997's Time Out Of Mind. Anyone with a good set of ears will likely favor Raitt's vocal over the original — often the case when someone covers a Bob Dylan song. On the angelic "God Only Knows," with accompaniment from only keyboardist Patrick Warren, Raitt seemingly makes her peace after a period of personal loss and salvation. Wipe the tears away and rejoice because the politically active, blues-pioneering queen of the slide guitar is back with a vengeance and her heart of her sleeve.
~ Shawn Perry