Bonnie Raitt: One Life To Live

The changes aren’t drastic on her new album Dig In Deep, but they reveal how she's taking charge of her music.

BonnieRaitt_ConcreteStairs_Credit_MarinaChavez

Raitt plays a different kind of gospel piano on the album’s final track, “The Ones We Couldn’t Be,” a slow hymn, a post-mortem on a relationship gone bust. She’s “looking through these photographs,” she sings to the other person, “searching for a clue” as to why they were pulled so tightly together and then flung so far apart. This is Raitt at her best, slowly filling her powerful voice with heartbreak. Accompanied only by Patrick Warren’s synthesizer strings, she confesses, “I’m so sorry for the ones we couldn’t be.”

“I still think in terms of a whole album,” she admits, “even though I know people are into downloading individual tracks now. But I’m old-school; I like putting an album together so it tells a story from the beginning to the middle to the end. Finding the right place for a ballad is the hardest, most important decision. That’s why sequencing is so crucial. To me the most important song is the last one.”

To these ears, the album’s linchpin ballad is “Undone,” written by Nashville singer-songwriter Bonnie Bishop. Over Finnigan’s B-3 and ex-Beach Boy drummer Ricky Fataar’s brushes, Raitt eulogizes a shattered romance. “Battle waged and nothing won,” she sings with those big open vowels of hers. “Oh what have I done. The blood has run.

Some things can’t be undone.”

By the time that chorus comes around for the third time, however, she sounds as if she’s singing not merely about a specific relationship but a... Sign In to Keep Reading

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