Soul icon Bettye LaVette returns with album of Bob Dylan songs, Things Have Changed, set for release on Verve Records March 30.
Listen to title track “Things Have Changed” premiered by Rolling Stone Country and available everywhere today.
“Bettye, everything you do touches my heart.” – Keith Richards
“Bettye wrenches every bit of emotion in these powerful, inspired re-workings of some of Dylan’s best songs. Great production, all around knock out of an album.” – Bonnie Raitt
“It must be illegal to have that much soul, but I’m glad to have been a partner in crime on this album. She made these songs her own.” – Steve Jordan
“Is there any soul singer who brings more guts, more conviction and more emotion to her singing?”
“Whatever she sings acquires the fierce, confessional intensity of someone who barely lived to tell the tale.” – The New York Times
January 26, 2017 (New York, NY) – For her tenth album and first album on a major label in nearly thirty years, legendary soul singer Bettye LaVette takes on the songs of Bob Dylan with the grit and experience that makes her one of the greatest living soul singers. Things Have Changed is a masterpiece of interpretation of one of the greatest songwriters alive, by one of the greatest soul singers alive. Keith Richards and Trombone Shorty guest on the Steve Jordan-produced album, which is set for release on Verve Records on March 30.
The title track was released today and premiered yesterday by Rolling Stone Country, who says of the track, “It’s a foreboding song…and LaVette rips into it with bluesy grit, as though she’s unashamed of her own confessions.”
This spring, Bettye will tour the new album across North America, including dates in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Boston and Washington, DC. She will also perform on NPR’s Mountain Stage on February 25, full dates below.
Things Have Changed 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. I didn’t find his words to be pretty so much as they are extremely practical or extremely logical. He can work things like ‘go jump off a ledge’ into a song.”
Things Have Changed sees Dylan’s songs seriously transformed: “I had never really listened to ‘It Ain’t Me Babe,’” she says, “But I had to make it more dismissive—not fast and hard, but like a Jimmy Reed tune. And ‘The Times They Are A-Changin,’ I had to flip that all the way around, so we worked up the groove on a beat box. That just made it extremely surprising.”
To pull off these transformations, LaVette needed a producer who was up to the challenge, and, through Executive Producer Carol Friedman, she found the perfect collaborator in Steve Jordan, former drummer in David Letterman’s house band, who has worked with everyone from Chuck Berry to John Mayer. “Steve was absolutely brilliant,” she says. “He remembers everything he has ever heard in his entire life, and he was able to interpret for the musicians everything I said to him.”
Jordan brought in an A Team of musicians, including Dylan’s long-time guitarist Larry Campbell, bass virtuoso Pino Palladino, and keyboardist Leon Pendarvis. The group was in such sync that the whole album was cut in just three days. Later, Keith Richards added guitar and is featured on “Political World” and New Orleans ace Trombone Shorty joined for “What Was It You Wanted.”
Grammy nominated singer Bettye 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 only 16 years old. She continued recording until her resurgence came in the early aughts with a series of albums of interpretations, and in 2008 she wowed the audience at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony with a heart-wrenching rendition of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me.” Her voice is like no other, and taking on the tricky canon of one of the most substantial songwriters alive is no small feat – but if anyone can match the heart of Bob Dylan, it’s Bettye LaVette.
01. Things Have Changed
02. It Ain’t Me Babe
03. Political World feat. Keith Richards
04. Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight
05. Seeing The Real You At Last
06. Mama, You Been On My Mind
07. Ain’t Talkin’
08. The Times They Are A-Changin’
09. What Was It You Wanted feat. Trombone Shorty
10. Emotionally Yours
11. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
12. Going, Going, Gone