My friend Jeff K, an occasional contributor here, suggested...no...demanded I listen to Bettye Lavette's new record of Dylan covers. My first thought was, in a word, no. No more Dylan covers. No more. And as much as I love everything about Miss Lavette's comeback, the covers records are starting to pile up, with five new collections of "interpretations" since her 2005 return. I just wasn't feeling it.
I finally gave in.
Really and truly wonderful.
Credit must go to producer Steve Jordan, who thankfully did not turn Miss Lavette's record into a showcase for his patented, trash bin drum sound. (I love Jordan's playing, just not the sound of his drums.) Instead, this is a soulful collection with brilliant arrangements of a few obvious selections and some, not so obvious selections. And of course, there is Bettye Lavette, who sings the bejeebus out of all of it, but never overdoes it, and neither does the crack band behind the voice. It's all so well-executed, giving space to both singer and songs.
I thought I'd never want to hear another "It Ain't Me Babe" ever again. But this arrangement, at least while I'm basking in the glow of this record, might end up being my favorite. Same goes for the arrangement of "Political World," with a genius key change, that for my money, makes the whole song. The "Inner City Blues" meets Isaac Hayes take on "What Was It You Wanted" is another gem.
"Things Have Changed" works. If you had the same feeling I did, regarding an album of Dylan covers, at least listen to the songs posted here.