Sunday, April 15, 2012

Music Review - Slipstream

Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream - April 10, 2012 - Previewed On Air - April 14, 2012

(Redwing Records, LLC - B006R1T40I:12 Tracks, CD/Vinyl)


Trying to find a new way to describe Bonnie Raitt’s talent and appeal is an exercise in frustration. To those who have already fallen under her spell, no words are necessary; to the uninitiated, you simply have to listen. Better writers than I soon exhaust their normal set of superlatives…and what an amazing release this new CD is…powerful and punchy, soft and soulful, heartbreaking and redeeming all at once. On the new CD, Bonnie draws from a remarkable pool of songwriting talent, including two Bob Dylan numbers and several by co-producer Joe Henry.

In the seven years since we last heard her on “Souls Alike”, Bonnie has lost both her parents, her brother and her best friend. Her sense of loss is all too apparent on this release. On “God Only Knows” and Bob Dylan’s “Standing in the Doorway”, her mournful alto plunges a knife into the heart, then heals the wound in a manner only a tried and true blues singer can.

The always expressive and mournful voice like a fine wine… aging beautifully, able to both break and mend the heart, melt you and knock you out. With that said, the real surprise here is her slide playing; normally preferring subtle, tasteful solos, she impresses here by taking the spotlight on both “Used to Rule the World” and “Down to You” and ripping through some very technical and precise but thoroughly discriminating licks on the former, while trading solos with long time band member George Marinelli on the latter. She plays a sometimes blistering, sometimes subtle slide solo on “Ain’t Gonna Let You Go” as well…saving the song from its somewhat awkward lyrical phrasing.

“Used to Rule the World” is the standout that opens this release. Funky and tight; her voice pleads and judges; seductive and punitive while her slide work flashes and dissolves, then flashes again. I listened to this cut 5 times in a row before moving on to the impressive reggae version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line”

The very soulful vocal on “Take My Love With You” confirms Raitt’s standing as a singer of enormous power and interpretation…if she’d never picked up the guitar or written a song, she would still be recognized as a blues singer extraordinaire. Her voice singing the line from this song, “I’ll be your talisman, I’ll be your lucky charm, put it in your pocket, put it in your heart…and in your weakness, baby just let it help you along and make you strong” sends chills up the spine.  A very nicely arranged set of harmonies during the chorus lends credibility and heart to the tune.

I’ve always felt the parallel of BDSM and the Blues, and as the Rolling Stones’ Will Hermes states in his review of Raitt’s version of the Dylan authored “You Can’t Fail Me Now”; It's mood music with a razor edge, pain fronting as bliss, delivered by a vet who understands that the blues are often about just that." Pain fronting as bliss...exactly. This is very, very, very good, so I'm giving this remarkable release 3.5 floggers (out of 4)

-DocRock - AKA VanHelsing



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