Thus far, Andy Kaulkin's series of cultural-collision concept recordings pairing past-their-prime soul singers with middle-class fanboy musician/producers hasn't been wildly successful. But he seems determined to keep plugging different people into the same equation until something clicks. This time Bettye LaVette is sent back to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals to collaborate with Drive-By Truckers main man Patterson Hood and engineer pal David Barbe in hopes that magic will ensue. It doesn't.
LaVette has little rapport with Hood, and her uneasiness interpreting his lyrics and the strange cover choices (Elton John's Talking Old Soldiers, Willie Nelson's Somebody Pick Up My Pieces) comes through in every vocal performance. Bringing in soul session ace Spooner Oldham was a good idea, but the Wurlitzer warmth he generates is lost in Barbe's harsh mix.