Singer/guitarist Bonnie Raitt certainly worked hard enough to appreciate where she is in her life and career. In fact, it took nearly 20 years for her to achieve the commercial breakthrough that came with the 1990 album, Nick Of Time.
Souls Alike, her latest (and 18th) release, offers a few tunes that fit comfortably within established styles, such as the introspective mid-tempo title song, the ballad “I Don’t Want Anything To Change,” and the New Orleans rock-and-soul of “Love On One Condition.”
Raitt stretches out boldly on several songs. “Crooked Crown” has a jagged rhythm and slightly off-kilter melody that makes it unlike anything else in her catalog. There’s an even bigger departure in “Deep Water,” whose funky looped rhythms, which are accented by shard-like instrumental fills, help give the song an angular, jazz-inflected feel.
Raitt recorded Souls Alike toward the end of 2004, before her father’s death last February, after which she took six months off to deal with her loss.
“He was the most positive person I know,” Raitt says of her father. “It was an extraordinary spiritual lesson for me to really understand how happiness and positivity is a choice and so is stress.”
She also used her time off to gear up for what has become 18 months of touring and the various promotional activities that go with it. One of her shows, a 2005 concert at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, was taped for a VH-1 special. It was released in Aug. 2006 on a DVD/CD set titled Bonnie Raitt & Friends. The set features guest appearances from Norah Jones, Alison Krauss, Keb’ Mo’, and Ben Harper.
“We’ve been knocked out at the great reviews and the audience response,” Raitt says. “The album’s been out for a while and there’s more of a chance that people know the new songs, which we’re really featuring on this tour.” —Alan Sculley
The “Souls Alike Tour 2007” with Bonnie Raitt and Jon Cleary comes to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (5001 Coliseum Dr., 529-5050) on Tues. April 24. Tickets are $60. Showtime is 8 p.m. Check www.bonnieraitt.com and www.coliseumpac.com for more.