After ten years during which Rita Coolidge bore witness to some of her life’s greatest joys and deepest sorrows (and the publication of her acclaimed 2015 memoir, Delta Lady), Coolidge is back with Safe in the Arms of Time, her eighteenth solo album and a reaffirmation of her indomitable spirit and unquenchable creative thirst.
Safe in the Arms of Time marks Coolidge’s triumphant return to songwriting. She cowrote three of the album’s twelve songs, drawing inspiration from her personal journey. Her enthusiasm for sharing her life stories was infectious. Minutes after meeting, Coolidge, former Tom Petty drummer Stan Lynch, and Joe Hutto composed “You Can Fall in Love,” about reconnecting with an old flame, as all three were swept up in an irresistible creative current. “The song was done and demoed in five hours,” marvels Coolidge. “You Can Fall in Love” embodies one of the album’s compelling themes: It’s never too late.
Safe in the Arms of Time is colored by Coolidge’s pivotal role in the 1970s singer-songwriter scene in Los Angeles, California, where she made her bones as a top backup singer—that’s her on the refrains of Stephen Stills’s “Love the One You’re With” and Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight”—before embarking on a platinum-selling solo career.
Coolidge and producer Ross Hogarth gathered an all-star lineup of the era’s top musicians (guitarist Dave Grissom, bassist Bob Glaub, John “J.T.” Thomas on keyboards, and drummer Brian MacLeod) at Sunset Sound, the famed recording studio in Los Angeles where she recorded her first solo albums.
She traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and the studio of Keb’ Mo’ to write, with singer-songwriter Jill Colucci, two of the album’s most intimate songs, “Walking on Water” and “Naked All Night.” Duetting with the Grammy-winning bluesman on “Walking on Water” was a thrill for Coolidge. “I literally have every Keb’ Mo’ CD—I’ve been a fan for decades,” she says.
Safe in the Arms of Time reunited Coolidge with Graham Nash, her romantic and creative confidant during Nash’s Crosby, Stills & Nash days and one of her most cherished and enduring friendships. Nash and the journeyman Los Angeles session drummer Russ Kunkel had written “Doing Fine Without You” and offered it to Coolidge. “That was one of the first songs we chose. Russell and Graham had written that and thought of me, and I said, ‘I don’t know when I’m doing a record, can I put this on hold?’” Two years later, the song is among the album’s standouts.
Safe in the Arms of Time’s songs are the first new music Coolidge has recorded since the tragic death in 2015 of her beloved sister, Priscilla, a recording artist and member of Walela, the Native American trio she and Coolidge founded with Priscilla’s daughter, Laura Satterfield. The recording of the album also coincided with Coolidge’s relocation from Southern California, her home since the 1970s, to a new life in Tallahassee, where as an art major at Florida State University in the 1960s, she discovered her true calling as a musician—and never looked back.
In her subsequent career comprising five decades and millions of record sales, Coolidge captivated audiences with her signature hits “We’re All Alone,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “All Time High,” and “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher.” And in a remarkable eight-year romantic and artistic marriage for the ages, she and former husband Kris Kristofferson earned multiple Grammy Awards.
Now, with Safe in the Arms of Time, Coolidge’s odyssey from the hills of rural Tennessee, where she was born, to the recording studios of Los Angeles and concert stages around the world has come full circle.
Her warm honey voice . . . [is full] of rare elegance and grace.
We’re more than excited about Rita Coolidge being back in the music scene. Safe in the Arms of Time is her key to a whole new generation.
—American Blues Scene