Redwing Records

Bonnie Raitt always gets kudos for her wicked cool guitar chops, but even if she couldn’t play a single lick, she’d still blow nearly everyone else out of the water with that voice. It’s one of the prettiest sounds on the planet, as Raitt’s new Slipstream reminds us at almost every turn. Raitt goes from funky and sexy on Randall Bramblett’s “Used to Rule the World” to the heartbreaking balladry of “Not Cause I Wanted To” with seemingly effortless ease. Her delivery on the Joe Henry/Loudon Wainwright III song, “You Can’t Fail Me Now,” is just gorgeous, from her guitar tone to her many-shaded, expressive rendering of these wonderful lyrics. Maybe it took days or weeks to achieve that perfection, but it sounds as if she nailed it in one take. She also gives a reggae-dipped texture to Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line,” adding more delectable rhythm and vocals than the original possessed. Hitting high notes with supple ease and giving it all kinds of change-ups, she throws in some zinging slide licks that send it to an even higher level. She scales another summit with her dirty-blues read on Dylan’s “Million Miles.” And on it goes. Interesting, one of the few falters on Slipstream is “Marriage Made in Hollywood,” a song by Paul Brady and Michael O’Keefe, Raitt’s ex-husband. But it’s overridden by the strength of tracks like the closer, “God Only Knows,” featuring only her elegant vocal and Patrick Warren’s keyboard work. After a seven-year break from recording, Bonnie’s definitely back — and hasn’t missed a step. Or a lick. — LYNNE MARGOLIS