LaVette Interprets Dylan Songs on New Album

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Bettye LaVette’s new album, Things Have Changed, contains interpretations of 12 Bob Dylan tunes.

(Photo: Mark Seliger)

On March 30, Verve Records will release soul singer Bettye LaVette’s new album, Things Have Changed, which is a collection of compositions by Bob Dylan .

Guests on LaVette’s 10th album include Trombone Shorty and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. The album was produced by Steve Jordan.

Over the past 20 years, in the studio and on the concert stage, LaVette has often delivered intense interpretations of songs by of The Who, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Fiona Apple and Dolly Parton. But Things Have Changed will mark the first time has she devoted an entire album to the material of one songwriter.

The program spans more than five decades of Dylan songs, from 1964’s immortal “The Times They Are A-Changin’” up to “Ain’t Talkin’,” the epic final track on his 2006 album, Modern Times.

“Other people write songs, but he writes vignettes, more prose than poetry,” LaVette said. “I didn’t find his words to be pretty so much as they are extremely practical or extremely logical.”

LaVette puts a new twist on one of Dylan’s most famous songs. “I had never really listened to ‘It Ain’t Me Babe,’” she said. “I had to make it more dismissive—not fast and hard, but like a Jimmy Reed tune.”

Other tracks on the album include “Political World,” “Seeing The Real You At Last,” “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight” and “Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others),” which appeared on Dylan’s 1979 gospel album, Slow Train Coming.

Dylan’s original version of the title track, “Things Have Changed,” famously appeared on the soundtrack to Curtis Hanson’s 2000 film, Wonder Boys, and earned the singer-songwriter an Academy Award.

Jordan assembled a remarkable cast of musicians for the Things Have Changed recording sessions. Dylan’s longtime guitarist Larry Campbell, bass legend Pino Palladino and keyboardist Leon Pendarvis all contributed to the 12-song program. The group was in such sync that all the basic tracks were recorded in three days.

Later, Richards added guitar and is featured on “Political World” and New Orleans ace Trombone Shorty joined for “What Was It You Wanted.”

A native of Michigan, LaVette has been in show business for nearly six decades. Her first single, “My Man—He’s A Lovin’ Man” was released on Atlantic Records in 1962, when she was 16 years old.

She experienced a career resurgence thanks to a series of acclaimed albums on the Anti- label, including I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise (2005), The Scene Of The Crime (2007) and Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook (2010).

LaVette will promote her forthcoming album with a U.S. tour that includes shows in Annapolis, Maryland (Dec. 17), Orlando, Florida (Jan. 5), Dallas (Jan. 13), Berkeley, California (April 19–20), and Portland, Oregon (April 22).

For more info on Bettye LaVette, visit her website. DB



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January 2019
Eric Dolphy
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