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Bonnie Raitt 

Silver Lining (Capitol)

Bonnie Raitt's 16th album is not a great album -- not even a great Raitt album. It begins in fine, Little Feat-style with "Fool's Game," plunges into sensitive pop with David Gray's pretty title tune, and then ratchets up with "Gnawin' on It." A slide-guitar duel between Raitt and Roy Rogers, it's the sexiest thing Raitt ever wrote and great blues to boot.

But then Silver Lining goes soft. The next three tunes are either half-baked or saccharine, despite their expert production. Raitt begins to get her groove back on "Hear Me Lord," a touch of African gospel blues featuring the lovely lead guitar of Andy Abad. Raitt's band sounds fine, particularly her dependable, versatile rhythm section, and most of the songs sound lived-in, especially the blues numbers. Blues, after all, have been Raitt's mainstay since the '60s, even though the pop of 1989's Nick of Time put her over the top commercially.

Produced by Mitchell Froom, Tchad Blake, and Raitt, Silver Lining goes down easy. But a touch more of that New Orleans-by-way-of-Los-Angeles funk that makes a portion of this disc so memorable would have given it more cohesiveness and power.

More by Carlo Wolff

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