Album of the Week: 'LaVette!' by Bettye LaVette
"LaVette!" by Bettye LaVette is KAXE's Album of the Week for June 2-8, 2023.
On Bettye LaVette’s upcoming album LaVette!, she continues her late-career resurgence with excellent interpretations of Randall Bramblett songs.
Listen to New Music on KAXE, Wednesday June 7, for an exclusive interview with Bettye LeVette. She will join KAXE Music Director Kari Hedlund to talk about the new album.
Making other artists’ songs her own has been a highlight of the second stage of LaVette’s career. 2005’s I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, the album that saw her receive her long overdue recognition, was made up of songs by artists like Sinead O’Connor and Fiona Apple.
In the years that followed she would put her own stamp on British classic rock standards, mine the Bob Dylan songbook for hidden gems, and most recently, pay tribute to some of the Black women in music who inspired her with 2020’s Blackbirds.
Now, on her new album LaVette has turned to Georgia musician Randall Bramblett for her source material. Bramblett, best known for his time with The Allman Brothers and their spinoff group Sea Level, may seem like an odd choice to some.
However, LaVette says of Bramblett, “I think he’s the best songwriter I’ve heard in the past 30 years, and I just discovered him eight years ago.”
Listening to LaVette!, it is clear that she believes what she says, and that in eight years she has learned the songs inside out. Throughout the album, LaVette is in fine form. On “Don’t Get Me Started” she has no time for a jilted partner trying to blame her for their troubles.
Lead single “Plan B” is a slow and funky blues jam in which LaVette sings, “I ran out of ideas a long time ago, still goin’ hard just a little bit slower.” It is just one of many instances when you think Bramblett must have written the songs with LaVette in mind.
The 77-year-old singer is backed up on LaVette! by an all-star band including Steve Jordan, Pino Palladino and Larry Campbell. There are also guest appearances by John Mayer, Jon Baptiste and Ray Parker Jr. The latter two of those guests give “Mess About It” a sleek funkiness, with Baptiste’s piano and Parker Jr.’s guitar trading riffs. Bettye LaVette makes the song her own by adding references to her hometown of Muskegon, Michigan.
Well into her career and already a member of the Blues Hall of Fame, Bettye LaVette continues to explore new territory and stand out in the contemporary blues and soul worlds. That is why it is our Album of the Week for June 2-8 on KAXE. Listen all week to hear songs from the album, plus, listen to New Music on Wednesday, June 7, for an exclusive interview with Bettye LaVette by our Music Director Kari Hedlund.