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ALBUM REVIEW : ***1/2 BONNIE RAITT "Luck of the Draw" Capitol

June 23, 1991|STEVE HOCHMAN

1989's "Nick of Time" didn't just win Raitt an armload of Grammys. It was also a state-of-midlife album, a sparkling portrait of a woman's coming into post-youth freedom only to hear the ticking of the biological and emotional clocks. So what next? A self-satisfied preview of incipient dotage?

Not on your life. Or not on Raitt's life, which is what this album, more than any of the others from her 20-year recording career, is about. Where "Nick" dealt with fear of independence, "Luck" looks at fear of interdependence--Raitt, as you may have read, is in love.

In fact, her new husband, actor Michael O'Keefe, wrote the lyrics to "One Part Be My Lover," about being on the receiving end of those fears. The three songs Raitt wrote on her own cover similar ground, as do songs she chose from such mature writers as John Hiatt and Paul Brady.

But if the lyrics are of fear, the music is all of confidence. Working again with "Nick" producer Don Was, Raitt has fashioned recordings that are among her friskiest ("Something to Talk About"), funkiest ("Tangled and Dark") and most elegant ("I Can't Make You Love Me"). Raitt's own top-notch blues singing and slide guitar are complemented by guest turns from Hiatt, Bruce Hornsby and Richard Thompson. Dotage can wait.

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