CD Reviews for 10/02/07 – Bettye LaVette, Okkervil River

Compact Capsules for 10/02/07
by Dan Ferguson

Bettye LaVette
The Scene of the Crime
Anti Records 86873

Boil and simmer, simmer and boil, that’s how it goes on Bettye LaVette’s The Scene Of the Crime. The setting is the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, the same locale where the soul diva recorded an album for Atlantic 35 years prior that never saw release. This time, she joins forces with southern-fried rockers Drive-By Truckers to cook up a Southern soul-styled stew that sees her wrapping her captivating pipes around tunes from late soulman Eddie Hinton to Willie Nelson to John Hiatt. The link to that fruitless 1972 session goes beyond the return to FAME what stduio vets David Patterson, whose son Patterson happens to be the front man for the Drive-By Truckers, and Shoals mainstay and newest DBT member Spooner Oldham. Like her 2005 comeback I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise, LaVette’s return to the scene of the original crime sees her leave her from-the-gut stamp on each and every track. (Visit

Okkervil River
The Stage Names
Jagjaguwar Records

With The Stage Names, Austin-based Okkervil River trade the dark, cinematic strokes of its last longplayer (Black Sheep Boy) for an album rich in bounce and pop, not to mention ear appeal. Front man Will Sheff’s toyful lyrics only add to the liveliness. And if there’s a singer with more drama in his voice than Sheff, I haven’t found him. (Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)