Detroit homegirl Bettye LaVette scored a 62 R&B hit (My Man Hes a Lovin Man) with her first record at age 16. Despite sporadic R&B success and performing Bubbling Brown Sugar on Broadway, she never charted pop. Spotted on the blues-soul festival circuit, Anti- Records paired her with fellow Michigander Joe Henry, who produced Solomon Burkes 2002 comeback effort. Henrys minimalistic approach works similar magic here, as LaVette wraps her steel-belted vocal cords around material written exclusively by female songwriters, ranging from country (Dolly Partons stark Little Sparrow, Lucinda Williamss bluesy Joy) to folk (Joan Armatradings brooding Down to Zero) to modern-rock (Aimee Manns sassy, How Am I Different). LaVette hand-picked all the songs; the albums title comes from a line in her jazzy rendition of Fiona Apples Sleep To Dream. And while she turns Cathy Maciejewskis Just Say So (a country hit for Bobbie Cryner) and frequent Leonard Cohen collaborator Sharon Robinsons The High Road into slow-burning soul ballads, the albums highlight just might be the opening track an a cappella take on Sinead O Connors I Do Not Want What I Havent Got, where LaVette sounds like shes shredding yards of silk with every syllable.
Don Waller writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.