Who would anticipate a Bonnie Raitt tune to begin like this? “Had the flu within the jail infirmary,” she sings in “Down the Corridor,” from her new album, “Simply Like That…,” which arrives greater than half a century after her debut.
“Down the Corridor” is a folky, fingerpicked ballad, written by Raitt, with the plain-spoken diction of a John Prine tune. Based mostly on a New York Occasions story, it’s narrated by a convict, a assassin, who finds a form of atonement in turning into a jail hospice employee: “The considered these guys goin’ out alone/It hit me someplace deep,” she sings, as Glenn Patscha’s organ chords swell behind her like glimmers of redemption.
“Down the Corridor” is the somber finale to “Simply Like That…,” Raitt’s first album since 2016. The music’s fashion is acquainted; Raitt, 72, reconvened her longtime band members, who’re outdated palms at blues, soul, ballads and reggae, and he or she produced the tracks with the texture of musicians performing collectively in actual time, savoring grooves and discovering heat in human imperfections.
However the album was recorded in 2021, nicely into the pandemic, and it exhibits. Alongside along with her common insights into grown-up love, want, heartbreak and remorse, Raitt’s newest assortment of songs instantly faces mortality.
“Livin’ for the Ones,” with phrases by Raitt and music by the band’s guitarist George Marinelli, is a Rolling Stones-flavored rocker, with strummed and sliding guitars tumbling throughout the backbeat. It attracts a life drive from mourning, countering petty impulses towards lethargy or self-pity with the blunt recognition of so many lives misplaced: “When you ever begin to bitch and moan,” Raitt sings, “Simply bear in mind those who received’t/Ever really feel the solar on their faces once more.”
One other form of solace after dying arrives within the quietly poignant title observe of “Simply Like That…,” additionally written by Raitt. Its story unfolds at a measured tempo. A stranger exhibits up on the doorstep of a lady who has by no means stopped blaming herself for the dying of her son. The person has sought her out as a result of he’s the one who bought her son’s coronary heart as a transplant: “I lay my head upon his chest/And I used to be with my boy once more,” Raitt sings, with sorrow and reduction within the grain of her voice.
The remainder of the album options Raitt’s extra typical fare: songs about love misplaced and located, about getting collectively or drifting aside. “Made Up Thoughts,” from the Canadian band Bros. Landreth, opens the album with a stolid portrait of a slow-motion separation, feeling “the quiet behind a slamming door.” Its counterbalance is “One thing’s Obtained a Maintain of My Coronary heart,” an Al Anderson tune a couple of late-arriving, sudden romance.
But mortality haunts even the love songs. The album contains Raitt’s remake of “Love So Robust” by the reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert, who led Toots and the Maytals and died in 2020 after being hospitalized for Covid-like signs. “Blame It on Me,” by John Capek and Andrew Matheson, is a bluesy, torchy, slow-dance breakup ballad that couches accusations in apologies, warning that “Fact is love’s first casualty”; close to the tip, Raitt turns the tables with an beautiful, sustained, breaking excessive notice. The tune additionally assigns a number of the blame to time, which has, “Poured like sand via your palms and mine.”
Understanding that life is finite, the stakes are greater for each relationship, each second. On “Simply Like That…,” Raitt requires compassion, comfort and perseverance to get via with grace.
“Simply Like That …”