Bettye LaVette

Detroit soul singer Bettye LaVette has had a consistent, albeit under-the-radar, career since the early 1960s. But it wasn’t until last year’s I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise that LaVette’s ability to kick the shit out of a song commanded interest beyond R&B devotees. Produced by Joe Henry (who did for LaVette and Solomon Burke what Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash), Hell‘s 10 cuts are each penned by strong women (i.e., Dolly Parton, Aimee Mann), but LaVette’s do-right-by-me attitude packs an even heavier wallop. Parton’s bluegrass ditty “Little Sparrow” is a scornful cautionary tale to all love-seeking sisters, and Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream” is no longer the work of a mischievous girl but the word of a sage seductress looking to ruin a man’s life.

Categories: Music