Triple Played: Raitt doesn’t slip up with ‘Slipstream’
It was with great anticipation that I awaited the arrival of Bonnie Raitt’s “Slipstream,” her first album of new material in seven years.
I have been a sucker for Raitt’s music since I first heard her sing “Women Be Wise” with the great blues singer Sippie Wallace on Raitt’s 1971 self-titled release.
I also was lucky enough to catch both of the shows Raitt put on in Mesa County in the 1980s.
I think it was 1981 when she performed at the Powderhorn ski area with the Lamont Cranston band opening the show. It was a great show and it really sounded great outdoors at the base of the mountain.
I think it was sometime around 1986 or ‘87 that she played at Castle Creek at West Main and First Street. It was there that I had the chance to meet her and have her autograph some records. She wrote on the album “Streetlights,” “To Rock and Kenda, this is my personal favorite record, Bonnie Raitt.”
For once in my life, I was pretty much speechless and an even bigger fan.
If I ever get the chance, I want to ask Raitt if her personal favorite changed after her landmark album “Nick of Time” was released.
“Slipstream,” with 12 songs over 57 minutes, is as good as anything that Raitt has done since “Nick Of Time” and “Luck of the Draw” were released in 1989 and 1991, respectively.
“Slipstream” opens with “Used to Rule the World,” a funky number in the Little Feat-style complete with a Hammond B-3 organ accompanying this: “Now you mystified/ Standing with the rest of us/ who used to rule the world.”
An excellent reggae-flavored cover of the Gerry Rafferty classic “Right Down the Line” is tasteful and features Raitt’s classic slide guitar and a clavinet that I think add to the original, something Raitt almost always does with her reinterpretations.
A cover of Bob Dylan’s “Million Miles” is done in an acoustic delta blues style with slide guitar accents clocking in at more than 6 minutes is as Raitt sings, “I tried to get closer/ But I’m still a million miles from you.”
“You Can’t Fail Me Now,” a classic heartbreaker written by Joseph Lee Henry and Loudon Wainwright III, is my favorite song from the disc at this point.
Bill Frisell’s incredibly forlorn guitar playing only adds to the sadness of the song.
“Down To You” is a jumpy in-your-face rocker and a song that would fit right in on the album “Little Feat’s Sailin’ Shoes” right after “Easy to Slip.”
“Not Cause I Wanted To” is another torch song, but this one is about Raitt’s divorce from actor Michael O’Keefe.
“Standing in the Doorway” is another Dylan cover from “Time Out Of Mind” and also is highlighted by Frisell’s guitar and Raitt’s amazing voice, which with all due respect to Dylan, is better to understand.
There isn’t a song on this CD that I would consider below average. In fact, Raitt’s voice has never sounded better.
She has always relied on her soulfully warm yet subtle delivery and she never over-sings a song. Her mix of soul, R&B, Blues, rock, folk and a laid back California style has worked for her for more than 40 years.
It also has worked out pretty well for me from a fan’s point of view. “Slipstream” is another great Raitt album.