Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Bette Smith reconnected with her musical roots in Memphis and Mississippi – and fulfilled a promise to her late brother in the process. Recording her powerful debut full-length album, Jetlagger, in Mississippi brought her to the roots of the gospel she sang in the church and the soul music she heard on the block on hot summer nights music growing up on the corner of Nostrand and Fulton. Jimbo Mathus produced the album at Water Valley's Dial Back Sound.
Mathus dug deep into the Mississippi and Memphis soul bags, unearthing "Flying Sweet Angel of Joy" by Famous L. Renfroe, a song with which Smith particularly connected. Mathus also picked Isaac Hayes' "Do Your Thing," which simmers with Memphis heat. The raucous soul-rock of "Man Child," the spare funk of "Shackles & Chains," and Blaxsploitation soundtrack feel of "Durty Hustlin'" were all written or co-written by Mathus specifically for Smith. She gets rough, wrestling the title track to the ground; the song captures the late nights and lack of sleep inherent in a musician's life. Jetlagger's closer, the Staples Singers' "City In the Sky," brings the album full circle.
First-call Memphis horn players Marc Franklin (Robert Cray, Lucero) and Kirk Smothers (Don Bryant, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Guy) were summoned to complete the album's sound.