AFTER taking a few years out for some creative recuperation, Bonnie Raitt has returned to her late-blooming career another Grammy Award richer, winning Best Americana Album for her current release, Slipstream – so titled because Raitt feels her music slips between the edges of such handy categorisation.
Certainly, there can’t be many artists who would choose to give Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down The Line a leisurely reggae makeover so close to his old stomping ground, but she has earned the trust of her fans when it comes to curating her varied songbook and succeeded in mining the vulnerable ache of the original before she and George Marinelli traded Raffertyesque guitar solos.
Other recent additions to her catalogue aired during this set included the soulful and slowburning Loudon Wainwright/Joe Henry number You Can’t Fail Me Now, Paul Brady’s freewheeling but cautionary Marriage Made In Hollywood (“between greed and you”) and the snoozy blues of Bob Dylan’s Million Miles.
Raitt and her regular band, plus “new boy” Mike Finnegan showing off on keys and Hammond organ, were supremely slick and comfortable on the maximum bar room blues numbers such as Thing Called Love – featuring slide guitar – and the loungey soul of Nick Of Time.
Their mutual enjoyment of each other’s performance on the party tunes was palpable, but there was more emotional power in the spare, intimate moments such as early track Love Has No Pride, John Prine’s Angel From Montgomery, dedicated to her mother, and I Can’t Make You Love Me, her furthest travelled and most familiar song, but sung from the heart here as if for the first time.