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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

AmazonUK   AmazonUS



Cherry Red CDBRED 649



1. Unbelievable

2. When I Was a Young Girl

3. Bless Us All

4. Stop

5. Undamned

6. Complicated

7. Where A Life Goes

8. Just Between You And Me And The Wall, You’re A Fool

9. Wait

10. Step Away

11. Worthy

Bettye LaVette - Vocals

Jay Bellrose – Drums, percussion (tracks 1-8, 10, 11)

Doyle Bramhall II - Guitar (tracks 1-11) - Bass (tracks 7, 9)

Chris Bruce - Bass - (tracks 1-6, 8, 10, 11) - Acoustic guitar (tracks 7, 9)

Patrick Warren - Piano, Hammond organ, Chamberlin

Ben Chapoteau - Baritone sax

Levon Henry - Tenor sax

Linton Smith - Trumpet (track 10)

Bettye LaVette is a force of nature. Although she began singing in her native Detroit when she was just sixteen and had a top ten R&B hit with My Man - He's A Lovin Man in 1962, her career has been a roller-coaster ride of intermittent success. Bouncing around from record label to record label, and to some extent covering a multiplicity of musical styles, it took until 2005 with the release of I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise, that she gained the acknowledgement that she was a solid blues/jazz singer with which to be reckoned. This latest offering Worthy is aptly named, and we should hoist a pint of thanks to the UK label Cherry Red Records for releasing the album.

Working from a set-list that is predominately from the pop, blues, and R&B world, LaVette takes the full measure of the genres to deliver resounding interpretations of the compositions. She starts with Bob Dylan’s Unbelievable which has a redolent concept that Bettye’s croaky voice works to perfection. Mick Jagger & Keith Richards’ rocker Complicated jumps out of the grooves with drummer Bellrose’s back-beat a perfect compliment to LaVette’s interpretation of the lyrics.

Just Between You And Me And The Wall, You're A Fool by James Brown is down-home blues, that exudes all the characteristic coloration associated with the style. It gives LaVette the underpinnings to offer her soulful rendition of the number. The Lennon/McCartney composition Wait is not one of their better-known numbers. But here with Chris Bruce’s acoustic guitar opening the track, and then acting as the supporting background for LaVette’s evocative vocal, it seems perfectly suited to the tune. Finally the title track Worthy is a slow blues-tinged offering, that gives LaVette’s resonant and soulful style a frame on which to hang her vocal excursion.

Despite a tumultuous life that Bettye LaVette unsparingly chronicles in her autobiography A Woman Like Me, she is a survivor and continues to demonstrate that she is a figure of inspiring confidence.

Pierre Giroux

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