The Best of Bonnie Raitt on Capitol 1989-2003, its 18 tracks handpicked by the artist herself as a portrait of her renaissance years, are indicative of the high-quality work ethic she has imposed on herself. Sometimes these songs reveal the queen doing a definitive read, such as on John Hiatt's "Lovers Will" (a song that deserves far, far more than it got -- the ache in her voice is the real grain of somebody who has been on both sides of love's hot broken arrow and still has faith enough to sing) or "Thing Called Love." Sometimes she's bringing the songs of Paul Brady ("Not the Only One"), Bonnie Hayes ("Love Letter" and "Have a Heart"), or even David Gray ("Silver Lining") and Richard Thompson ("Dimming of the Day") to the masses in ways that define them for a different audience. And sometimes, it's simply Raitt playing her own songs ("Nick of Time" and "Spit of Love") full of a poetic, sensual ferocity that oozes tenderness and commitment. And throughout it all is her trademark bottleneck slide, coaxing love notes or razored snarls out of her Stratocaster. There aren't any unreleased tracks here, but for the money you get the best of the best and her own comments on each song as well as a short essay about what this music means to her. Given that you don't have that box set (yet), that means this is worth whatever you happen to pay for it -- but don't forget about getting some of those Warner albums (Give It Up is a great place to start). Here is the astonishing range, from deep blue-eyed bluesy soul, sheeny reggae-tinged pop, and adult rock & roll that moves and inspires anyone with an open mind.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek