Bettye LaVette, ‘Worthy’

On her fifth superb studio album in a decade, seasoned soul singer LaVette reunites with producer-musician Joe Henry, who worked with her on 2005’s “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise,” the album that brought her to the masses, where she belongs. “Worthy” is another finely curated set of songs — by the likes of Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, and Jagger and Richards — that have little in common aside from LaVette’s ability to burrow deep into their pathos and, by extension, under our skin. A taut song stylist known for her intensity, LaVette is unusually at ease here. “Just Between You and Me and the Wall You’re a Fool” sounds like we’re eavesdropping on her after last call, her wail weathered and raw. She turns Henry’s “Stop” inside out with a shuffling blues arrangement; it takes a few minutes to realize it’s the same song Madonna recorded as “Don’t Tell Me.” Again, LaVette didn’t write the words, but they speak to her experience: “Tell me everything I’m not/ But please don’t tell me to stop.” (Out Tuesday)



Bettye LaVette performs at Regattabar on Feb. 28.

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