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Luck of the Draw is the eleventh album by Bonnie Raitt, released in 1991. After being nominated for Grammy awards in four different categories for the album Nick of Time, Raitt went for a creative retreat in Northern California to begin work on Luck of the Draw. “I did it on purpose to see if I could come up with anything,” Raitt said in 1991. “In case I won, I wanted to make sure that I had done some writing and didn’t feel that Nick of Time was a fluke. I didn’t want to win just ’cause I quit drinking and spent twenty years not making any money, you know? There wasn’t enough. So I basically forced myself to go to songwriting boot camp. There were three of four days when it didn’t happen — but because I didn’t have alcohol or unhappiness or anything to get in the way, it started to open up and I started three of the four songs of mine that are on this album. And then it didn’t matter if I won or not, because I had proved to myself that it was okay.” The album surpassed Nick of Time’s commercial success, having sold seven million copies in the United States alone by 2010, and was supported by a 180-date tour from 1991 to 1993. It replicated much of her U.S. success overseas as well, selling two million in France and Italy. It remains Raitt’s biggest-selling recording to date. In the liner notes, Raitt dedicated this album to the late blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, “still burning bright”.
As its title makes clear, the 1991 sequel to Bonnie Raitt’s platinum breakthrough on Nick Of Time takes nothing for granted. Raitt had achieved sobriety, renewed commercial focus, and then the payday that the prior album yielded, but Luck Of The Draw mirrors an even fiercer determination to make music as if her life depended on it. Again teamed with producer Don Was, Raitt surpasses herself with her best album to date: her wonderfully lush, blues-rimmed voice and sinuous slide guitar wrap themselves around a dozen potent songs culled from a typically shrewd mix of writers including Paul Brady, John Hiatt, Bonnie Hayes, Shirley Eikhard, and Billy Vera, and Raitt herself turns in her most generous batch of originals yet. Sympathetic guests include Brady and Delbert McClinton on harmony vocals, Richard Thompson on guitar, and Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on organ, in a program including the sassy “Something to Talk About,” the sultry “Slow Ride,” a soaring “Not the Only One,” and the heartbreaking “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” This isn’t luck, it’s artistry. –Sam Sutherland