“The streets are filling up with all those broken hearts”, wails Bettye LaVette in the Bob Dylan-penned opening track “Everything is Broken”, a solitary lament of the failing communities and systems for support. I can tell you one thing that truly isn’t broken (thanks to producer Craig Street) is the band of instrumentalists supporting LaVette on this project, each having their own shining moments while leaving plenty of room for LaVette to express herself so well. A heartfelt search for living an authentic life is the theme of “The More I Search (The More I Die)”. The band brings up the funk tempo a bit with the track, “I’m Tired”, and what LaVette does with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” is amazing because her phrasing gives the lyrics the best chance to be examined with deliberate detail. The Sly Stone-penned title track, as well as her bluesy read of “Fair Enough” (Beth Neilsen Chapman) and “I’m Not the One” (The Black Keys) are more highlights on this CD. Thankful N’ Thoughful is a recording that marks 50 years for LaVette in the entertainment industry even though she’s still new voice to many. Yet listening to her impeccable interpretive skill as a vocalist, you will not soon forget her. You believe every word she sings as if she wrote it. As the late James Brown would say, “that’s soul power!”

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