In Her Own Words

Mae West said, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful." On Longing in Their Hearts, the third release since Bonnie Raitt’s comeback, not much is different from Nick of Time (1989) and Luck of the Draw (1991)—but who’s complaining?

A compilation of blues rockers and pop ballads, of covers and originals, Hearts is a mixer that may entice even the wallflowers. Known for her thorough search for songs to record, Raitt gets our attention here with five of her own songs instead. Far from becoming complacent with success, Raitt is working as hard as ever.

The title song, with lyrics written by mate Michael O’Keefe and music by Raitt, is a toe-tapping story of a short-order cook: "He’s seen this/and he’s done that/Now he’s makin’ fried eggs an art/But there’s one thing/he can’t fix no how/there’s a longing in his heart." Levon Helm’s harmonies blend beautifully with Raitt’s melody, his voice as distinctive as it was in The Band.

The other originals are equally strong. "Cool, Clear Water" reflects a woman secure enough to handle intimacy, and the lyrics convey that desired vulnerability: "I want to feel my earth turn over, darlin’/til I’m rootless and unbound." Raitt seems to have kept her adventurous spirit even in marriage and adulthood, always looking for the edges of growth and risk.

Poignant early lessons of growing up are the subject of "Circle Dance," especially as the hurts and disappointments linger into present relationships: "It’s a bitter heirloom handed down/these twisted parts we play/I’m not her and you’re not him/It just comes out that way." Bittersweet lyrics, Raitt’s soulful electric piano, and harmonies by David Crosby combine to create a memorable ballad.

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Sojourners Magazine July 1994
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