And this is also the first album in memory that Raitt hasn't written any of her own material. But, then, she's had a difficult time in recent years. Both her parents passed away earlier this year, after the record was completed last fall, but both were ill for a long time. She was also helping her older brother, who was suffering from brain cancer (now cancer-free). So choosing material was like therapy for Raitt, and there wasn't time for doing any of her own writing.
The defiant lead single "I Will Not Be Broken," no doubt a comforting song choice for Bonnie while coping with illness and death in her family. It was written by the songwriters behind "I Can’t Help You Now" from her last record, and it's an engaging Memphis-style groove.
Bonnie also does a version of Jon Cleary's "Unnecessarily Mercenary," a 1999 song from the New Orleans bluesman and keyboardist who has worked with Bonnie on her last two records and is currently on tour with her. The song provides an opportunity for Raitt to effortlessly weave her slide guitar in and out through Cleary's N'Awlinz piano banging.
Three songs on Souls Alike were co-written by Maia Sharp, who also performs sax on and contributes backing vocals to the record. Of these songs, "The Bed I Made" is the album-closer, a slow, torchy number about romantic regrets. Another song co-written by Maia is "Crooked Crown," a quirky tune with the song's narrator constantly undercut by their own pessimistic interior monologue.
Other great songs on the record include "Two Lights in the Nighttime," a bluesy cover of a song by mandolin player Pat McLaughlin, which gives Bonnie one of the best slide guitar showcases on the album.
"God Was in the Water" a cover of a nice Randall Bramblett song from 2001, and Bonnie also does a version of California singer/songwriter Emory Joseph's song "Trinkets" (another great slide workout).
Souls Alike is an entertaining and soulful set of eleven songs that showcase Bonnie Raitt in the same high casual quality groove that she's inhabited almost non-stop since 1989's Nick of Time album reinvigorated her career. Fans will find finds much to love on this CD, and may well win her some new ones as well.