Bonnie reprises a first-Raitt formula
By now we all know what’s coming. Since 1989’s smash Nick of Time, Bonnie Raitt has essentially repeated the same formula—tasteful blues-rock, heavy on the mid-tempo ballads, redolent with subdued yet soulful slide-guitar runs and New Orleans polyrhythms. It’s music from the uptown Cotton Club rather than the cotton fields; no one’s gonna mistake the album for Howlin’ Wolf, but Souls Alike proves again that it’s a wonderful formula.
There are a few curveballs here, notably the messy dissonance of “Crooked Crown” and the jazzy torch-singer lament of “The Bed I Made.” Otherwise, this is Bonnie doing what she does best—strutting on the funky romps “Love On One Condition” and “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” sounding wistful on the meditative “So Close” and “I Don’t Want Anything to Change,” and riding the R&B groove of “God Was in the Water.” In the process, she continues to work a minor miracle no less impressive because of its repetition: she produces music that’s radio-ready, but never boring or insipid.