With 'Dig In Deep', her twentieth album, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt comes out swinging. The follow-up to 2012's triumphant 'Slipstream', the new record illustrates the delicate balance of consistency and risk-taking that has defined Raitt's remarkable career for more than forty-five years.
On this album, Raitt kept things focused and close to home. Feeling that her recent two-year-long tour was one of her best ever, she was eager to get her touring band back in the studio. She again produced the album herself, and notably, she has writing credits on five of the album's songs—the most original compositions she has contributed to a record since 1998's 'Fundamental'.
In many ways, 'Dig In Deep' is a continuation of a new chapter for Raitt that started with the release of 'Slipstream'. That album marked her return to studio recording after seven years and the launch of her label, Redwing Records. A huge success, 'Slipstream' sold over a quarter-million copies in 2012, making it one of the top-selling independent albums, and earned Raitt her tenth GRAMMY Award, for Best Americana Album. From The New York Times to People Magazine, 'Slipstream' was also lauded in numerous critics' lists for album of the year.
"The response to 'Slipstream' was such a refreshing and unexpected boost," she says. "So going into this album, I had renewed energy."
Raitt played over 170 shows in North America, Singapore, Australia/New Zealand, the UK and Europe on her 2012-2013 'Slipstream' Tour, made several national TV appearances (Ellen, Leno, Letterman, GMA, Fallon, Kimmel and more), performed at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance from the Americana Music Association.
"Coming off of the 'Slipstream' tour, it felt like finishing a winning season," says Raitt. "At that point, I just wanted to build on the band's and my strengths and find something new to dig into—and that's what the next year was all about."
The recent success, and the ease that she has with her current team, also motivated Raitt to get back into songwriting mode. "I wanted to come up with some songs that went with grooves that I missed playing in my live show," she says. "Looking around at my friends and peers, a lot of them are doing some of their best work, and I found it very inspirational to get back into the pit, coming up with my own point of view again, as well as writing with my longtime bandmates, George Marinelli and Jon Cleary."
In addition to the originals, Raitt recorded material by some of her favorite working songwriters, and a couple of knock-out covers—a blazing version of Los Lobos' "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes" and her sexy, slow-burn take on the INXS hit "Need You Tonight." 'Dig In Deep' features a healthy dose of Raitt's signature slide guitar work, but also sees her at the piano for two emotional, deeply personal numbers. She also included "You've Changed My Mind," a song from the 2010 sessions she did with producer Joe Henry, four of which ended up on 'Slipstream'.
She knew going into the sessions that she would once again produce the album and use her beloved touring band—George Marinelli on guitar, James "Hutch" Hutchinson on bass, Ricky Fataar on drums, and Mike Finnigan on keyboards. She also reunited with her engineer Ryan Freeland; "Ryan has become a very strong ally," she says. "There's a great simpatico there and he's just phenomenal at what he does."
As always, there was the matter of finding the material, working out the arrangements, and then pulling out the feel of the album. "With all my records, I've never had a concept or an angle," she says. "It's more a function of finding songs that can really express what I want to say at the time, with grooves I've been wanting to add and ways of putting them together that are both fresh and challenging to us and our fans. When you get the right people in the room and don't think about it too much, that's when I think the best magic happens."