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Disc reviewsBettye Lavette

I've Got My Own Hell To Raise

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On I've Got My Own Hell To Raise, Bettye LaVette refashions handpicked songs from female songwriters and performers, similar to Solomon Burke's autumnal comeback effort Don't Give Up On Me. A Detroit-based soul singer whose name is much less familiar than Burke's, LaVette's talents are nonetheless remarkable. Fire, compassion and natural, unashamed sexiness radiate from the 59-year-old performer.

Beginning with Sinead O'Connor's a cappella hymn "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" and concluding with the Fiona Apple hit "Sleep To Dream," one is hard pressed to find a lull in between. LaVette works her sonorous growl like she's warming up a crowd in a dimly lit after-hours club, spanking every bit of longing and regret out of Lucinda Williams' "Joy" and lending gospel-tinged dignity to Aimee Mann's "How Am I Different."

Before Burke did Don't Give Up On Me, he'd gradually been relegated to the stifling oldies circuit. Earlier this year, he released Make Do With What You Got, an album lacking none of its predecessor's magisterial showmanship. Don't be surprised to see LaVette's career rejuvenated in a similar fashion. She recently performed her reworked version of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow" on "The late Show With David Letterman" and you could've heard a pin drop after its mournful final notes. She's good, y'all. Damn good.

Michael Andrews

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