Wild rock & soul singer Bette Smith traces elements of her life-affirming new album “The Good, The Bad and The Bette” to her childhood in rough Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Musically, it connects to the gospel music she heard in church and the soul music on the corners. This injection of soul music and gospel into rock & roll powered a breakout in 2017’s “Jetlagger,” which received raves from NPR, Paste, American Songwriter, Billboard, MOJO, and a feature in the New York Times. Not just a critics’ darling, the album rose to #1 on the Roots Music Report chart and topped off a banner year with a celebrated appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. For this latest release, out now on Ruf Records, the Brooklyn, NY native enlisted Drive-By Truckers’ Matt Patton and engineer/drummer Bronson Tew as producers at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS; Patton has previously helmed projects by Jimbo Mathus and the Dexateens as well as contributed to albums with Dom Flemons, Seratones, and Candi Staton. He played bass on “Jetlagger,” which was produced by Jimbo Mathus and the two found a kinship and shared vision. She says, “When I called on my producer Matthew Robert Patton, I told him that I wanted a southern rock soul/Aretha Franklin/’I once was lost but now I’m found’ theme.” He in turn enlisted guests North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson (guitar on “Signs and Wonders”) and fellow DBT member Patterson Hood (vocals on “Everybody Needs Love”) to join him on the new album.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Bette about the upcoming event at the High Noon Saloon on August 15th. We really get into how the people at the reason Bette brings it out on the road. She hopes to get to know the folks who feel the music, feel the stories and just feels it. We spend time walking, almost dancing though some of the tracks on the album, where they came from and how they piece toGether that almost diary feel to this record. This album has many angels to it, the soulfulness one would come to expect, the bluesiness one needs and that rockin’ feel that one might have been hoping for. Seriously now, if you like to allow your body, mind AND soul to be moved, Bette is your guide. Bette also takes a little about the artists she might think round out a set along with her new music and to me, I am think an extended set of Bette Smith is just what the doctor ordered.