Bettye LaVette, with her tender 72 years, can look back on an unusual career for a soul singer. Her career is unusual because it did not really kick off until the year 2000, making her mark as a singer already at the age of 16, when she landed a USA hit with My Man - He's A Lovin' Man together with Matthews. Significant touring credits include Clyde McPhatter, Ben E. King, Barbara Lynn and Otis Redding in the early seventies, Broadway appearances and a musical tour with Cab Calloway. Then, in 2000, she got a record deal, which resulted in successful new albums that made for a veritable reboot of the soul-lady’s career, who today is one of the best known and best singers in her genre, whose coarse voice mirroring her life experience with her long downs and reflects short success periods. For many, Bettye LaVette is the greatest soul singer of the present, whose rock, blues, soul and country interpretations leave the competition far behind.
On her latest album Things Have Changed you can find exclusively covers of Dylan songs. The Dylan guitarist, Larry Campbel, bassist Pino Palladino, Leon Pendarvis on keyboards, and Steven Jordan on drums, are all veteran warriors of the scene, are involved in this album. But what does Bettye LaVette do with the more or less known and the rather unknown songs from the years 1979 to 1989 by a Bob Dylan, whose interpretation is still perceived as inseparable from the original way of singing of the author. She does not just offer a transcription of the Dylan songs, spiced up by the instrumental art of her companions, but a new interpretation that uses the original songs only as a starting point for a complete new perspective. Others have already tried this with different starting material and failed miserably because they did not manage to convey a new message with their view, to tell a new story. And that is exactly what Bettye LaVette manages to do, credibly telling a new story for each of the songs, of which with exception of The Dads They Are a Changin 'are none belongs to Bob Dylan’s road sweeper in a highly emotional manner.
It may well be assumed that the four years older Bob Dylan has his joy on the vehemently realized re-narration of his songs by the powerful-sounding soul singer, which does not interfere with his own interpretations. Probably he takes Mama, You Been On My Mind, performed by him in the best folk way, smirking in his new rap form as a contemporary alternative and marvels, what predominantly positive statement Bettye LaVette finds, cleverly merging blues and rock, in the socio-critical, originally rather gloomy songs Times They Are A Changin' and Things Have Changed. In the end, Bob Dylan may admit defeat to Bettye LaVette when it comes to the heart-pounding songs Do not Fall Apart On Me Tonight, Seeing The Real You At Last, and What You Wanted To Do, gaining credibility by LaVette through creative seriousness and down-to-earthiness.
The album Things Have Changed offers a thrilling journey from start to finish through the world of Bob Dylan seen from the planet of the great soul-lady Bettye LaVette.