Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Josh's Listening Journal, 11/30

I've spent the past week or so with Bettye Lavette's new album, I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, and I can think of at least three good reasons why everyone here should check out this album immediately.

First... there's Joe Henry. Yup, our man is at it again. He's proven himself a capable producer of soul music veterans before-- ie, with the Solomon Burke disc froma few years back and with this year's I Believe to My Soul compilation-- and he proves it again here, giving these songs the same kind of "holy moment" feel of his own Tiny Voices disc or Dylan's Time Out of Mind, only grittier, funkier.

Second... there are the songs. Ten covers of songs by great female songwriters. Sinead O'Connor's "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," performed a capella. Lucinda Williams' "Joy," one of the fiercest rockers you'll hear all year. Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow," a nasty little number that rolls by on a cantankerous groove. Aimee Mann's "How am I Different," turned into an irresistable R&B shuffle. Fiona Apple's "Sleep to Dream," a weird, off-kilter album closer.

And third... there's LaVette herself. She's one of a kind-- defiant, aggressive, and full of attitude, but still dignified and eloquent. She's like a female version of Elvis Costello.

And speaking of which... Costello himself happens to love this disc. And so does Bonnie Raitt. So... what are you waiting for?

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