Okay, so the lyrics are undeniable. They’re Bob Dylan. The vocals? Also undeniable, as usual, because this is the legendary Betty Lavette.
Maybe the best part about this album is that most of these are Dylan songs you’ve either never heard before or forgot about because they’re selected from his 1980s portfolio–a time when glam and slick glitz was much more important than lyrics, and Dylan struggled to find his way. But now, sung with the passion and earnestness of a master like Lavette, you can appreciate them. In fact, they work a lot better than her covers of classics like “The Times They Are A-Changin'” because you don’t have to forget the original. Like on the title track: Lavette owns it. She took this track for herself the way Aretha took Otis Redding’s “Respect.”
At the same time, she takes over monster hits like “It Ain’t Me Babe” and rearranges them to the point where they almost feel like this is the first time they’ve been recorded.
Covers albums are becoming more and more common (and I’m happy about that because I dig ’em), but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.