I've Got My Own Hell to Raise

I've Got My Own Hell to Raise

by Bettye LaVette
     
 

Are there any more authentic old-school divas with roots, passion, skill, and pure heart out there? The answer is yes, and her name is Bettye LaVette. Although she's put in her time -- the Detroit daughter toured with James Brown in the '60s and starred opposite Cab Calloway in the Broadway show Bubblin' Brown Sugar in the '70s -- LaVette is only now coming toSee more details below

Overview

Are there any more authentic old-school divas with roots, passion, skill, and pure heart out there? The answer is yes, and her name is Bettye LaVette. Although she's put in her time -- the Detroit daughter toured with James Brown in the '60s and starred opposite Cab Calloway in the Broadway show Bubblin' Brown Sugar in the '70s -- LaVette is only now coming to wider public attention. It's not a minute too soon. This career-defining opus is a concept album of sorts, in that each track was written by a female songstress. So LaVette, whose raspy pipes remain in tip-top shape, tackles work by a wide swath of talent including Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams, Sinéad O'Connor, Aimee Mann, and Rosanne Cash. No matter how unlikely the source, LaVette brings a focused, heartfelt emotionality and intelligence to each song. With unadorned yet perfectly apt production supporting her vital performances, this died-in-the-wool R&B stylist makes her case for being one of today's most underrated vocalists. When you crave soulful crooning that comes straight from the gut, with sincerity and purity to spare, Bettye is ready to supply it. William Pearl

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
What can be said about Bettye LaVette that hasn't already been said? Like James Carr before her, LaVette has toiled behind the smoke and glitz of the limelight for decades. Her last regular recording contract was in the 1980s, and she hasn't cracked the R&B Top 20 in over three decades. The 21st century has seen LaVette's activity increase, but it is this recording, produced by Joe Henry -- who did wonders with Solomon Burke -- that once more unveils to a large audience LaVette's singular gifts as a singer. She's backed here by a wondrous slate of musicians including bassists Dave Pilch (acoustic, stand-up) and Paul Bryan (electric), Lisa Coleman on organ and piano, and guitarists Chris Bruce and Doyle Bramhall II. I've Got My Own Hell to Raise begins innocently enough with an a cappella read of Sinéad O'Connor's "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," radically reinterpreting the song as a gospel number. It's chilling. But it kicks right into a hard soul version of Lucinda Williams "Joy," and careens into another hard soul, straight-from-the-gut interpretation of Joan Armatrading's "Down to Zero." One will be tempted to take the disc off right here; these three cuts are enough to take the listener into the small, unspeakable spaces in the mind and large terrains of the heart where emotion becomes nearly overwhelming. But there's so much more, like the hard, guitar-drenched, Southern-fried funk roiling boil of Rosanne Cash's "On the Surface"; the dark, edgy groove of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow"; the gritty, rusty-edged knife funk of "Only Time Will Tell Me," and the glorious closer, a radically re-imagined take on Fiona Apple's "Sleep to Dream," with its deep tom toms, loose-wristed snare, and wah-wahed guitars. LaVette is fortunate to have found a producer with Henry's guts, vision, and sensitivity. He gets a lot of credit here, not only for presenting LaVette in a stripped down and directly emotive context, but also for his arrangements of these songs that feel almost like cinema in their dynamic and dramatic settings. In each case, the constructive reworking of these cuts from the ground up -- everything begins with rhythm here -- finding and embracing the angularity hidden in them and putting them in front of a singer who can roll and shapeshift while remaining true to herself is simply wondrous. Hopefully, the attention this garners will lead to more than a one-off collaboration between Henry and Lavette.
New York Times - Jon Pareles
Ms. LaVette has made an album of harrowing beauty.
Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
Hell is heaven. (A-)

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/27/2005
Label:
Anti
UPC:
0045778677221
catalogNumber:
86772
Rank:
69373

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bettye LaVette   Primary Artist,Vocals
Chris Bruce   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Paul Bryan   Electric Bass,Bass Guitar
Lisa Coleman   Organ,Piano,Wurlitzer
Niki Haris   Background Vocals
Earl Harvin   Drums
David Piltch   Double Bass,Upright Bass
Valerie Watson   Background Vocals
Doyle Bramhall   Electric Guitar
Niki Harris   Background Vocals
Valerie Watson   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Rosanne Cash   Composer
Dolly Parton   Composer
Joan Armatrading   Composer
Elvis Costello   Author
Bonnie Raitt   Author
Lucinda Williams   Composer
Joe Henry   Producer
Aimee Mann   Composer
Jon Brion   Composer
Andy Kaulkin   Executive Producer,Audio Production
Sinéad O'Connor   Composer
John Scott Sherrill   Composer
Rob Bowman   Liner Notes
Gavin Lurssen   Mastering
Sharon Robinson   Composer

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