Dig In Deep
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
To paraphrase an old ad slogan from the Sara Lee dessert company, “nobody doesn’t like Bonnie Raitt.” The singer/guitarist/bandleader and occasional songwriter has been at it since 1971, churning out nearly 20 remarkably consistent albums filled with her distinctive mix of blues, folk, pop, reggae and rugged roots rock and roll. There may be a weak track or two in that batch, but there aren’t many and anyone who has seen her live knows Raitt brings it every night.
Better yet, she makes it seem easy.
That’s the case on her first album since 2012’s Grammy winning Slipstream. This sophomore release on her own Redwing label is another near perfect dozen song set that displays her formidable talents, honed over an impressively dependable 45 year career.
Raitt kicks off with the swampy “Unintended Consequence of Love,” a co-write with keyboardist Jon Cleary that plays to her sweet spot, leaving room for her typically sizzling slide guitar that seems to have gotten tougher with age. She gets down and funky on a surprisingly effective cover of INXS’s hit “Need You Tonight” as the lyrics slither out with all the sex and sass baked into them. She tears into a Stones styled rocker “The Comin’ Round is Going Through” with more punch than artists half her age and takes us down to the bluesy bayou on the grinding “Gypsy in Me.”
Raitt also excels at lovelorn ballads and she’s in terrific voice on the bittersweet “All Alone with Something to Say,” Bonnie Bishop’s similarly lyrically styled “Undone,” and the regretful closing weeper “The Ones We Couldn’t Be” where she accompanies herself on piano. Having her road band, including long time guitarist George Marinelli, along in the studio makes every track feel comfortable and effortless. And, when she rips into Los Lobos’ riff rocking “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes,” it sounds like the room is going to explode. As producer of all but one tune, Raitt takes responsibility for the approach, adding an organic, personal touch as she lays down the groove she hears in her head.
Between the quality of the songs (five written or co-penned by Raitt, an unusually high number), the relaxed yet taut performances and Bonnie’s characteristic smooth whisky drawl, the appropriately titled Dig In Deep is another distinguished and near perfect entry into a classy, bulging catalog that has seen few missteps. That’s an achievement few artists can lay claim to and better yet, she shows no signs of slowing down.