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Bonnie's Successful Launch of Redwing,
This review is from: Slipstream, Bonnie Raitt (Audio CD)
After a seven-year hiatus, partly due to personal setbacks, Bonnie gets down to business and forms her own Redwing Records label. When she straps on her slide guitar, it boasts her loosest playing in fourteen years. She's learned a great deal along the way as her self-production skills on eight of these twelve tracks are precision sharp. The fine songwriter she is has relegated herself mostly to the sidelines, but it's understandable because it's as an interpreter in which she's more identified. Of the Al Anderson tunes, only "Not Cause I Wanted To" springs out of the banal. However, there are three outstanding tracks that showcase Bonnie's band. On "Used To Rule the World", Bonnie's voice and guitar are so souped up that she makes seventies funk sound like the latest rage. Her reggae remake of Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line" is thoroughly reimagined, wholly making it her own. The gorgeous "Take My Love With You", written by three unknowns, is equally measured in its wistfulness and self-assuredness. The sound of these songs is particularly augmented by the fresh blood of Mike Finnegan's Hammond organ.
But it's on three other tracks, all produced by Joe Henry with his simmering band, that most successfully incorporate Bonnie's longstanding marriage with blues-based music. Her smoky contralto delivers immense poignancy with the set closer, "God Only Knows", supported with nothing but understated piano/keyboard. Topping that are two perfected updates of two Bob Dylan songs, both initially from his 1997 classic "Time Out of Mind". I'm convinced these songs, with her voice tinged with chagrin, were really meant for her. Veteran session guitarist Bill Frisell shines accordingly. On "Million Miles", she sees through artifice and it signifies as surely as anything she's ever done. I'd include this with perennial favorites like "Love Has No Pride", "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy", "Angel From Montgomery" and "I Can't Make You Love Me".