Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
Brooklyn native Bette Smith is a rough and ready vocalist with a broad range that recalls Bettye laVette and Tina Turner in their harder edged rock and blues modes. This disc finds her on a personal journey as she works through her early roots in the church and then has to reconcile that with her mother’s abandonment of the family when the going got tough. "I’m a Sinner" finds her looking in the mirror at her shortcomings over the rocking backdrop laid down by Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. "Whistle Stop" addresses a dream about her last look at her mother while "Don’t Skip Out On Me" finds her proclaiming her self-sufficiency while still wanting company on her journey. The horns on the break add to the depth of the emotions she lays bare as the song comes to an end. All vestige of church is left behind on the grinding "I Felt It Too" which finds her dealing with more nocturnal emotions. While most of the material is forceful and hard-edged, she can dial back the heat as evidenced by the soulful, "Song For a Friend", and the mid-tempo "Pine Belt Blues" where she sadly proclaims she has a credit card for every emotion. She charges plenty on the card on "Everybody Needs Lov"e where she is joined by Patterson Hood of the Drive By Truckers for a good old-fashioned sing-along about the virtues of love as a solution to the day to day bump and grind of life. She finds another path to getting along on the supremely funky "Fistful of Dollars". Powerful and self-assured, Bette Smith is a force to be reckoned with. Smitty
review by Mark
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