Bonnie Raitt

Fundamental

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    5
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Apparently in an attempt to find new sounds that would appeal to a new audience, Bonnie Raitt severed her ties with her comeback producer, Don Was, for Fundamental, hiring those masterminds of experimental adult pop, Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. Although Froom and Blake have worked with a number of singer/songwriters and roots musicians -- including Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Richard Thompson, Los Lobos, and Crowded House -- they often emphasize the production over the song, pouring on layers of effects and novelty instruments that tend to obscure the songs and performances. While they don't go overboard on Fundamental like they did on Los Lobos' Colossal Head, they have pushed too much of their own style on Raitt. There are good songs scattered throughout the record, but it's hard to pick them out underneath the gauzy, murky production. Eventually, the album becomes a bit of a chore, since the sounds wear on the ears. That's too bad, because Raitt remains a vital artist -- it's just that Froom and Blake haven't allowed her to rely on her talents here.

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