The Day – Bonnie Raitt puts on “Just Like That” on her new album and relishes the feedback from her fans


Bonnie Raitt can pinpoint exactly how she impacted her most devoted listeners.

And that has little to do with her eight Grammy wins between 1990 and 1992, her 2000 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy she received earlier this month. , or the fact that she is the first female musician ever honored by Fender. with a signature series of Stratocaster electric guitars in 1995.

“The two biggest compliments I get, to date, are, ‘You’re one of the few musicians my mom and I can share,'” Raitt said, his voice tinged with pride.

“The other is, ‘I never saw my husband cry, until we went to your show, and you sang ‘Angel from Montgomery’ or ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’ “They send me handwritten letters, and it’s absolutely gratifying.”

Raitt may soon receive a new round of fan mail from grateful listeners.

“Just Like That…”, his first new studio album in six years, is both one of the most sincere and daring works of his 51-year recording career.

Raitt’s always expressive singing is more soulful and nuanced than ever, while his songwriting reaches new levels of craftsmanship and sophistication. The music is beautifully crafted, but also not overly thought out or overplayed. It feels very much like the work of an iconic artist who is at the top of her game and continues to push to forge new creative paths that build on her past accomplishments.

As a bonus, the almost telepathic interaction with his band members belies the fact that they couldn’t make music together for an extended period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Raitt and his fellow musicians reunited last year in a wooded recording studio north of San Francisco, they had a shared sense of gratitude and celebration that comes through in every note played and sung on “Just Like That …”

“I can feel in the tracks on the album how excited we are to play together again,” said Raitt, whose “Just Like That…” tour with fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee , Mavis Staples, is her first since 2019.

“You can’t underestimate the impact of having canceled four or five tours, or two years without playing together. Now we are preparing for a tour, and we all have vaccines in our bodies.

“So many times it looked like we were going to make the record and go on tour, but we’re not. As sad as I am about all the things in the world to be sad about , I’m so thrilled that we now have this chance again.”

Raitt is quick to note that the pandemic hasn’t affected her as much as members of the concert tour production crew and theatre, arena and club employees whose livelihoods have dwindled. evaporated overnight.

“Forget the joy of collaborating and being on the road, even if it’s a huge loss,” she said. “But the loss of all the income and the security of the people I work with was far greater. So the least I can do is take the income I’ve earned over the years and split it between the people I work with.

“Because we thought we were going to do three or four tours of Canada with James (Taylor), I had to book and retain my tour crew, who work six to eight months in a normal year. When my tour was postponed many times paying was the right thing to do, when the tour was canceled completely it was always the right thing to do.

“We’re all family. And I can’t think of a better use of my earnings than to split it among the people who helped me get here in the first place.”

His 2022 “Just Like That…” tour is his first opportunity to perform songs from his new album live, and the first for audiences to hear his new material in person.

Raitt strongly believes in giving every song she records – whether written by her or someone else – enough time to develop and evolve.

The fact that, since 2011, his albums have been released on his own label, Redwing, ensures that he does not face the pressures of deadlines that are often a reality for many artists in the music industry.

“As if I would have let a record company tell me anything!” laughed Raitt. “I said to the two labels I was with (before Redwing): ‘I’ll decide what I write, what I record, with whom, when it comes out, and I’ll be in charge of my music. And I will be working hard, shooting and doing a lot of interviews.

“As for my own songwriting, I write on command. When I know I have seven or eight other people’s songs that I want to do, I percolate them for as long as they need to.

“Like ‘Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart’ by Al Anderson (co-founder of the band NRBQ), I’ve been waiting 30 years to put on the right record. The Toots and the Maytals song, ‘Love So Strong’ , which is on my new album I have (waiting to do) since 2016.

“When I have a batch of songs (from other writers) framed, I look at what else I want to say. And one of the ways I stretched this album was with the ‘story songs’ – “Down the Hall” and “Just like that”. I write mostly for myself.”

On the song “Living for the Ones,” which she co-wrote with her longtime guitarist George Marinelli, Raitt was also writing for her deceased family members and close friends. The music vibrates with fervor, while the lyrics examine mortality issues with sensitivity and insight drawn from personal experience and loss.

“‘Living for the Ones’ is the only song on my new album that I wrote during the pandemic,” she said. “That’s how I started to feel when I lost my brother in 2009 and he couldn’t walk or see for the last six months of his life. Whenever you live with someone ‘one who loses the ability to live, you very quickly stop complaining about your own pains. So I had a lot of practice (for the pandemic).”

About John Villalpando

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