An interpreter of the highest order, Bettye LaVette tackles the music of Bob Dylan in her latest effort, Things Have Changed, released last Friday.
She has recorded a handful of Dylan tunes over the years, including “Most of the Time” for the 2012 Amnesty International benefit compilation Chimes of Freedom. So she knew going into Things Have Changed what she needed to do to take on this material. “I always have to put the words into my mouth—I can’t even imagine singing a song just like another person,” she says. “Other people write songs, but he writes vignettes, more prose than poetry. I didn’t find his words to be pretty so much as they are extremely practical or extremely logical. He can work things like ‘go jump off a ledge’ into a song.”
Rolling Stone Magazine writes, "Yet this album is more hers – more personal and reflective of her wicked ways, sly humor and battle-tested wisdom – than any she's made. Consider Dylan a jumping off point for LaVette – a way of drawing power and focusing attention until she can take the time she needs to describe the world the way it feels to her: a tangle of longing, lust, struggle and hard-won satisfaction." 4/5 stars
Financial Times claims, "LaVette is throaty and vibrant, stamping herself on the songs so assertively that she even tweaks the Nobel Prize winner’s lyrics here and there." 4/5 stars
The Guardian states, "..even Bob can’t sing Dylan these days – but soul queen Bettye LaVette, her pipes intact at 72, brings a slinky ferocity to her Dylan covers album that, together with arrangements from an ace studio team, transforms its dozen songs." 4/5 stars
relix claims, "She’s got an innate sense of how to retain the core of these compositions while personalizing them so definitively that you’d swear she wrote them today if you didn’t know otherwise."
Things Have Changed is out now and available everywhere.
See her June 25 at Koerner Hall as she headlines our first ever Blues Revue.