Bettye LaVette

Yoshi's San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Bettye LaVette is very cognizant of her current favor, both popular and commercial. She’s milking her 50-year overnight success with a celebration of her career in song, from the R&B, soul and gospel-rooted early hits, like her first, “My ManHe’s a Lovin’ Man,” 1972’s “The Stealer,” Lucinda Williams’s “Joy” and a searing cover of Bob Dylan’s 1989 “Everything Is Broken.” At the ripe young age of 68, Lavette is not one to rest on her laurels. With her hard-edged band, featuring Alan Hill on keys and Brett Lucas on sizzling guitars, LaVette is expanding her range into exquisite covers of material that seems written with her pleading, raw, emotional vocals in mind. A slowed down “Like a Rock” is a confessional of incredible depth and conviction, as is George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” and Tom Waits’s “Yesterday’s Here.” There aren’t many singers who can match Lavette’s soulfulness. Imploring us to feel the lyrics, she connects with our emotions on a level few performers can match. Closing with “(As Close As I’ll Get to) Heaven,” her song of gratitude, LaVette is sitting pretty and certainly thankful for the long, hard road to success.

Steve Murray
Cabaret Scenes
August 14, 2014