In a concert last month at Hollywood's Hotel Cafe, the buzzy English singer Paloma Faith crouched down near the floor to sing "Let Me Down Easy." It's a tough-love song associated with a number of hardy
LaVette does some crouching of her own on "Thankful N' Thoughtful," a powerful new covers album that finds the 66-year-old R&B singer tapping into the desperation of tunes like
But throughout "Thankful N' Thoughtful," LaVette — who's scheduled to appear Thursday night at the Troubadour — seems determined to isolate the basic character of the material. She takes these songs down to street level, stripping them of everything inessential in order to find out what they have to say about life or love or, in a deep-blues rendition of
Rickie Lee Jones utilizes a somewhat similar approach on her new covers album, "The Devil You Know," which also contains a vintage Young selection ("Only Love Can Break Your Heart") along with songs by
Yet where LaVette uncovers heaviness, Jones — who plays the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Saturday — ends up with something almost lighter than air (turns out Fanny's load ain't so bad). "The Devil You Know" is exceedingly pretty, as is a ghostly rendition of the traditional folk song "St. James Infirmary," which is about withering away in a hospital from the effects of a venereal disease. Jones is confronting life-and-death issues, but she's letting you down easy, too.