Promises shorter wait for next album (for which she hopes to "find something to write about")
Nearly four months after its release, Bonnie Raitt considers "Slipstream," her first new album in seven years, a success -- and a surprising one at that.
"I honestly never thought this record was going to sell 200,000 copies (229,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan) in the first couple of months or that I was going to sell out shows on tour," Raitt tells Billboard.com. "In this recession, with this much distance between (2005's) 'Souls Alike' and now, I didn't know what kind of audience would still be there for me. I'm absolutely knocked out. I just wasn't expecting this record to get this kind of response, so I'm just really happy the critics like it and the fans like it as much as they do."
Raitt took the break from recording to deal with "just life stuff" after the deaths of her parents and her brother. She produced most of "Slipstream" -- whose No. 6 debut on the Billboard 200 was her best since 1994's "Longing In Their Hearts" -- herself, with four tracks helmed by Joe Henry during a session that Raitt says "was done really as an experiment and really ended up jump-starting me to want to finish the record."
"We were only going to do two or three (songs) just to try it out, and we did eight songs in one day," Raitt recalls. "I actually had a couple of Joe Henry songs I wanted to record and was going to call him when he called me, which was fortuitous. I told him, 'You're about a month away from getting me to call you and ask if I can come over and work with you.' I have so much admiration for him; just who he picks to work with and produce makes him cool even if he wasn't such a brilliant singer-songwriter himself."
Of course, those additional songs recorded with Henry could imply a head start towards her next release. But Raitt -- who begins the next leg of her "Slipstream" tour on Aug. 10 in Vancouver -- says that she's "not even thinking about the next record. I don't have any songs planned. It's a great ride right now. I'm just focused on putting on great shows, the best shows I can." She'll be in North America through October and plans to tour Australia, New Zealand and Europe as well. "It'll probably be two years (of touring), then I'll need a rest," Raitt says.
But she doesn't think fans will be waiting another seven years for a new album this time. "I know I have some leftover tracks from Joe that'll come out," says Raitt, who co-wrote just one of "Slipstream's" 12 tracks. "I didn't write much in the past decade, either, so I'd like to do more next time if I can find something to write about that's not unraveling my own personal story too much. I feel like I did a lot of that in the 90s, so I'd like to say something different now. And I get so many great songs by writers I love, I feel like whatever I do has to stand up to those, which is a pretty high standard."