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Weeding a Garden of the Soul

North Hollywood, Calif.

BONNIE RAITT started her new album, “Slipstream” — her first since 2005, and her first on her own label, Redwing — last year in a basement in South Pasadena, Calif.: at the home studio of the songwriter and producer Joe Henry.

The studio has low ceilings, exposed brick and stone walls, casual floral-patterned chairs and prized vintage instruments and microphones close at hand. Some of the sound-absorbing foam in its closet-size vocal booth, where Ms. Raitt sang, is the packing material with gramophone-shaped cutouts that cushioned Mr. Henry’s three Grammy awards.

It was a homey spot to get a new perspective on her music. Ms. Raitt, 62, was easing back into a career she had paused — a career, as it enters its fifth decade, with enough loyal fans to sell out midsize theaters across the United States and abroad. She met me in late March for an interview in a North Hollywood rehearsal studio, as her longtime band was setting up to practice. (Continued...)