Mae West said, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful." On Longing in Their Hearts, the third release since Bonnie Raitts comeback, not much is different from Nick of Time (1989) and Luck of the Draw (1991)but whos 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 OKeefe and music by Raitt, is a toe-tapping story of a short-order cook: "Hes seen this/and hes done that/Now hes makin fried eggs an art/But theres one thing/he cant fix no how/theres a longing in his heart." Levon Helms harmonies blend beautifully with Raitts 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 Im 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: "Its a bitter heirloom handed down/these twisted parts we play/Im not her and youre not him/It just comes out that way." Bittersweet lyrics, Raitts soulful electric piano, and harmonies by David Crosby combine to create a memorable ballad.