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Album Review

March 20, 1994|JEAN ROSENBLUTH

BONNIE RAITT

"Longing in Their Hearts"

Capitol

* * *

With trees, it's rings. With people (except perhaps those who work in Hollywood), it's wrinkles. With musicians, all you need to chart the aging process is the number of slow songs on each successive album.

Raitt's mellowest album yet exudes the maturity born of a quarter century of professional music making and a lifetime of living hard. It also marks another incremental step in her steady progression away from relying exclusively on her blues-rock roots for inspiration. There are songs here--only a few, mind you--without so much as a lick of slide guitar or a trace of depression-wracked vocalizing.

What's more, there are only one or two tracks that adhere strictly to the formulas that used to shape all her material. The title cut, with lyrics by her husband, actor Michael O'Keefe, is a fairly standard rocker with some engaging wordplay; "I Sho Do," spiced up by the Memphis Horns, showcases the sassy side of Raitt with which we are so familiar.

Far more adventurous are a stately rendering of Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day" and the poignant "Circle Dance," a woman's musings on the absentee father of her childhood. Raitt is definitely growing older, but aging doesn't come much more gracefully.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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