There are singers, there are songwriters, and then there’s Bettye LaVette. She prides herself on being an interpreter, on using her voice to guide new melodies out of lyrics that have become a second skin to many listeners. But don’t you dare call her a covers artist. The septuagenarian’s new album, Things Have Changed — her first major label effort since 1982 — marks the first time LaVette has ever released an album focusing on one artist exclusively, and it just so happens to be Bob Dylan.
The idea sprang out of her 2008 Kennedy Center Honors performance in which she interpreted the Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” and effectively stunned Pete Townshend. She eventually translated that moment into her 2010 album, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. But Dylan is a different beast. LaVette shape-shifts his Nobel Prize-winning words into growling, bluesy affairs and soul-laced R&B, each track so unlike its origin that it’s a wonder they ever came from his mouth in the first place.
Read the full article at The Bluegrass Situation.