20 December 2010

For Your Ears aka Random Review: Mavis Staples 'You Are Not Alone'

Mavis Staples embodies the term living legend.

The US-born vocalist is a Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner & US National Heritage Fellowship Award winner. She has been named one of the Top 100 Greatest Women of Rock n' Roll (VH1) & one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (Rolling Stone).

As such, she could be forgiven for resting on her not-inconsiderable laurels. However, her brand new album, 'You Are Not Alone', is one of the most exciting in a career that began more than 60yrs ago when she started singing with her ground-breaking family group, The Staple Singers.

Recorded with noted US alt-country band Wilco's frontman Jeff Tweedy in the producer's chair, 'You Are Not Alone' showcases the sound of a seasoned performer unafraid of pushing her boundaries. Atop sympathetic instrumentation equally capable of raw, ragged rhythm & blues as of deeply soulful gospel, Staples passionately delivers messages about the state of the world today - many of the songs the famed Roebuck "Pops" Staples led his gifted family through spoke of the same issues of poverty, jobs, welfare & how the love of God will help see us all through in the end. Not for nothing were they known as "Gods Greatest Hitmakers".

Staples covers songs written by blues & soul icons Allan Toussaint, Little Milton & the Reverand Gary Davis; by Randy Newman, John Fogerty & even a few composed by Staples' late father, "Pops" himself; but it's the incredible treatments of the traditional gospel songs 'Creep Along Moses' & 'Wonderful Saviour' - rich in history, passionately performed, immaculately arranged - that mark this as an essential for fans of real rhythm & blues, soul, country & gospel music.

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