Bettye LaVette has been called a "singer's singer," which means she interprets songs according to her inner compass and her ability to guesstimate the temperature of her audience. Her gravelly, aching voice makes every song personal, yet relatable. With her latest album Things Have Changed, she hits another one out of the soul ballpark by covering notable songs from the legendary Bob Dylan's hearty catalog.
The opening blistering beats of the title track "Things Have Changed” sound like ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down." It's brazen, brass and self-assured. Dylan's voice is always a little bit behind the beat, a little off-kilter, which is a great fit for his outlook on society and life. LaVette's voice tackles every note like it's a warm cocktail or tumultuous love-affair. With her sandpaper-meets-silk voice, she turns every song, even the gentlest of ballads, into a fight for survival.
Two of the deepest and most steeped-in-soul takes on the album are "Political World" with Keith Richards and "What Was It You Wanted" with Trombone Shorty. The former has a bit of a WAR like groove and the latter is a stone-cold jam, with Curtis Mayfield-ish rhythms.
Ms. LaVette's voice is a soulful voice on steroids. She delivers all twelve tracks with the conviction of living and the gratitude of seeing each day. They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. That certainly holds true for Bettye LaVette's one-of-a-kind fierce vocals.
Notable Tracks: “Mama You Been On My Mind” | “Political World” | “What Was It You Wanted”