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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2010 | Anti - Epitaph

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Sélection Les Inrocks
Mavis Staples may not have a voice with the kind of range and pure power of an Aretha Franklin, but she understands the ins and outs of phrasing and nuance, and brings an inimitable, gritty passion to everything she sings, even into her seventies. She's also not afraid to walk right down the middle of the road between secular and sacred, fully aware that both the blues and gospel are really talking about the same thing -- the need to get to a better place. She performs this delicate synthesis well on You Are Not Alone, an album that finds her teamed with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, whose production on this project is surprisingly sympathetic to Staples' strengths, and more importantly, doesn't make her sound like an adjunct participant in a Wilco album. No, this is Mavis' show, and she grabs ahold of well-chosen covers like Randy Newman's “Losing You,” Allen Toussaint's “Last Train,” Reverend Gary Davis' “I Belong to the Band,” and John Fogerty's “Wrote a Song for Everyone” with conviction, wringing every bit of wisdom, anger, compassion, and joy out of them, while bringing a fresh perspective to traditional gospel pieces like “In Christ There Is No East or West,” “Creep Along Moses,” and “Wonderful Savior,” reminding that redemption is pretty hard work even in the best of times. She tackles a couple of Pops Staples pieces here, too, “Don’t Knock” and “Downward Road,” making this whole set a well-rounded portrait of Mavis Staples as she stands then, now, and tomorrow. Tweedy wrote several songs for the project, but only two, including the title track “You Are Not Alone,” appear here, and he wisely resisted any urge to overdo his sonic stamp on the album. Most tracks feature sturdy, simple, and subdued backing that allows Staples' voice to carry the show, highlighted by reverbed guitar reminiscent of Pops Staples' trademark sound, although only enough to suggest it -- nothing here gets in the way of Mavis' voice. You Are Not Alone is a solid outing that somehow amazingly manages to be both secular and sacred at once, and there is a stripped-down timelessness to it. It's gospel. It's blues. It's about love and redemption, and how each needs the other. You Are Not Alone won Best Americana Album at the 2010 Grammys. ~ Steve Leggett
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Soul - Released November 17, 2017 | Anti - Epitaph

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
Ten years after signing with the ANTI label, Mavis Staples pursues her impressive resurrection. Still joined by Jeff Tweedy, the great soul gospel priestess even hands him the wheel in this If All I Was Black, for which the band leader of Wilco has penned all the songs. After We'll Never Turn Back produced in 2007 by Ry Cooder, You Are Not Alone in 2010, One True Vine in 2013 and Livin' On A High Note in 2016 (on which she asked Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Justin Vernon a.k.a. Bon Iver, The Head & The Heart, tUnE-yArds, Neko Case, Aloe Blacc, Son Little, Valerie June and M Ward to participate), Pops Staples’ daughter inhabits each composition and her voice tames the lyrics of songs that couldn’t be more politically motivated. A major figure of the Civil Right Movement, a regular of great causes and militancy in songs, this lady masters these anti-Trump pieces with her usual class, with strong yet subtle criticisms—that are never Manichean nor childish—of an American in full regression. Above all, the blend of gospel inwardness, soul power and rhythm ‘n’ blues groove that she offers perfectly combines with Tweedy’s rustic and 'no added sugars' production. A great soul disc! © MZ/Qobuz
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R&B - Released June 21, 2013 | Anti - Epitaph

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R&B - Released June 21, 2013 | Anti - Epitaph

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy proved to be such a good match on You Are Not Alone -- the album won a Grammy in the category of Best Americana Album -- that the two opted to do it again. Not tremendously different from that 2010 set, One True Vine does involve a slightly different core lineup. Tweedy's teenaged son Spencer drums instead of Stephen Hodges, and Tweedy, rather than Jeff Turmes, handles all the bass duties (among several other instruments). The album features another assortment of covers and new material. Its quieter, reserved, slightly darker mood is tipped off with a cover of Low's "Holy Ghost." Mavis' characteristically arresting voice, supported by Mark Greenberg's lightly touched Wurlitzer and a hushed backing vocalist trio of Tiffany "Makeda" Francisco, Kelly Hogan, and Donny Gerrard, sounds like it could have been recorded during a 2 a.m. service. Early Funkadelic classic "Can You Get to That" -- the most inspired choice of the Tweedy sessions -- is done straightforwardly with slightly goofy vocals from Tweedy and Gerrard. Nick Lowe's contribution, "Far Celestial Shore," can be identified quickly, yet it's not out of place among Tweedy's three originals or the two songs within the public domain. A new version of "I Like the Things About Me" (aka "I Like the Things About You") swaps twanging guitar for buzzing bass and has deeper resonance with Mavis singing lead than the Pops-fronted original heard on The Staple Swingers. Throughout, Tweedy and company give Mavis even more room than on You Are Not Alone. While this isn't as exciting, the grip is instant, hard to break. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released February 19, 2016 | Anti - Epitaph

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Even at 76 years old, nothing’s stopping Mavis Staples! Since 2007 and her signature to Anti music label, the high priestess of gospel soul and lead of the Staple Singers is frequenting recording studios now more than ever, not to mention always being well accompanied. After We'll Never Turn Back in 2007 (produced by Ry Cooder), You Are Not Alone in 2010 and One True Vine in 2013 (both directed by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco), the daughter of Pops Staples now publishes Livin ' On A High Note. This time, Mavis Staples has ordered a few henchmen, all of whom are much younger than her. Result: a flamboyant and colorful cast including Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), The Head & the Heart, Tune-Yards, Neko Case, Aloe Blacc, The Little, and Valerie June among others. Obviously, the hostess seizes all these tracks and makes them her own. © MZ/Qobuz
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Pop - Released April 24, 2007 | Anti - Epitaph

When Mavis Staples issued Have a Little Faith in 2004 on the Alligator label, there was no doubt she was back. While the recording was subdued in places, it also showcased her ability to get so far down inside a song that it had to bubble up and be completely reinvented by her voice. It wasn't just a soul and contemporary gospel recording; it also touched on her earliest days with her family singing the blues gospel, and there was a bucket of hope in each track. Several of the songs from the recording were used in television and film. Her 2007 follow-up, We'll Never Turn Back, focuses on another kind of hope: the hope that the men and women who engaged in the civil rights struggles of the early '60s brought to a hostile America and changed its laws -- and some of its attitudes, but not nearly enough -- forever. Staples has enlisted the help of the original vocalists of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Community, who were called the SNCC Freedom Singers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (no strangers to the struggle for basic human rights) in a couple of places, and Ry Cooder and his roots band to accompany them. Cooder produced the set, but his gift is the ability to retain in their entirety the voices of the performers when he works with them. Mavis may not have the shouting power she once had, but the conviction and expression in her voice have not wavered an inch. She's still got plenty in her pipes, and We'll Never Turn Back is the proof. Cooder's compadres are son Joachim on percussion, drummer Jim Keltner, and bassist Mike Elizando. The song choices are quite remarkable, as the album kicks off with J.B. Lenoir's "Down in Mississippi," which echoes the spooky, eerie Pops guitar sound as the voices hover all around it. The arrangement Cooder chose for the traditional "Eyes on the Prize" accents his funky, nasty slide guitar as much as it does Mavis' voice. The song is offered not as an anachronism, but as a spiritual with contemporary -- even necessary -- instructions. Ladysmith Black Mambazo's backing vocals fill the refrains with a necessary sound of lineage as if this were the sound of antiquity coming forward to broadcast once more that it is necessary. Keltner and Joachim, with their contrapuntal rhythms, offer an organic take on breakbeats as well. The Freedom Singers begin their contribution on the album's fourth track, "In the Mississippi River," with Charles Neblett offering the call from ages past before the band gets inside it and makes it downright snaky. Mavis soon digs into her low register and the drums and slide guitar pump that backbeat with purpose, mean and slow. The shuffling swamp rock version of "This Little Light of Mine" makes it a new song. Mavis lays out pure Southern soul in her vocal and the band shuffles and soft-shoes it, making the tension rise in the singer's voice. On the popping gospel-funk of "99 1/2 Won't Do," they let her lead it and she goes down into the drum groove for inspiration and finds it there. Cooder's guitar playing asserts itself everywhere, but gradually and gently, preferring to let Mavis lead him. The gorgeous backing vocals by the Freedom Singers kick it. The longest cut here is "My Own Eyes," where Mavis performs a tune she wrote -- it's an emotional reverie, recounting her own family's journey through the civil rights movement as inspired by the late Dr. King. Her message is not necessarily poetic, but it's deeply moving and urgent. When she raises her voice to proclaim "I saw it with my own eyes/So I know it's true," there's no doubting. When she indicts politicians on their failure in New Orleans, one can feel the bile rise in her throat. The final track is "Jesus Is on the Main Line," a tune Cooder himself recorded on Paradise and Lunch so long ago. This arrangement is completely different, but it's even more effective. His guitar is a slim, slow-sliding companion to Mavis' voice, full of distant reverb and in-your-face presence even as it pushes her vocal to the front. When the band enters a minute or so later, the tune cracks wide open and begins a kind of mariachi song as it meets gospel. The Freedom Singers egg on the percussion and it responds in the backbeat, and Mavis lets the graininess in her voice shine through. It's a rough-and-ready tune that is not only inspirational but fun. In sum, We'll Never Turn Back is the kind of album we need at the moment, one that doesn't flinch from the tradition but doesn't present it as a museum piece either. Mavis Staples has done it again. ~ Thom Jurek

Soul - Released November 5, 2018 | Anti - Epitaph

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Soul - Released January 1, 1996 | Verve

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 28, 2008 | Anti - Epitaph

The occasion for recording this live album was Mavis Staples' return visit to Chicago's legendary Hideout in June of 2008, on a Monday night. (It is not necessarily the best evening for club-going or concert-attending audiences.) Accompanied by a basic rock trio and three backing vocalists, Staples dug deep into her repertoire; many of the songs came from We'll Never Turn Back, a collection of songs from civil rights era rock, gospel, and Staple Singers material. Recorded and released by Anti, it is a warts-and-all performance. The sound is pristine, the energy from the stage is kinetic from the second tune forward, and the audience participation is rather sparse until the end, but it's obvious they get it. The set commences with Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth." To be honest, it's not the best version Staples has ever delivered, but it's adequate and gives the crowd something to hold on to. She digs a little deeper on "Eyes on the Prize," and is full bore by the album's third cut, "Down in Mississippi." Staples is in fine voice, but to be fair it is not the voice of her younger years. She is 69 years old, and some of the high notes are no longer available to her, but what she lacks in her legendary range she more than makes up for in both grit and passion. Her transposition to lower keys suits her well and she uses it to maximum effect -- check out her growling version of "Wade in the Water," with a call and response from her backing vocalists. Rick Holmstrom's Telecaster guitar lines are drenched in warm bluesed-out reverb throughout the set, but here they help put the song over the top. In fact, the trio here -- completed by bassist Jeff Turmes on bass and Stephen Hodges on drums -- feels like some lost incarnation of Creedence Clearwater Revival at their most spooky and meandering. The groove is constant and hypnotic, and Staples draws from them, putting the song across better than she has on any album. If this music were played in churches this way, they'd all be full. Other performances are starker, relying as much on Holmstrom's guitar as they do on Staples' voice, such as "Waiting for My Child" and a smoldering, funky version of "This Little Light of Mine," which is all rhythm. The reading of her father Pop Staples' "Why Am I Treated So Bad" is fully supported by the handclapping crowd and her backing chorus, and its subterranean blues, though slow and purposeful, is full of determination. "Freedom Highway" is the most uptempo thing here, walking a line between gritty soul and roots rock. Staples offers a long rambling intro to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," but it's worth the wait. She explains that it's the first song her father ever taught her how to sing; the arrangement sticks close to his, but the voice is all Mavis, and she and the chorus dig into it like they were trying to defeat death itself. Ultimately, though this set has a few rough spots -- you had to be there to get the full power and rough-hewn majesty of it all -- it's a better offering than listeners had any right to expect, and Mavis Staples more than keeps up her end of the bargain. It is at once a celebratory and inspiring recording. ~ Thom Jurek
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Soul - Released January 1, 1969 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Soul - Released January 1, 1970 | Concord Records, Inc.

Recorded in 1969 and released the following year, Only for the Lonely was one of the best LPs Mavis Staples ever recorded. Staples' energy, delivery, timing, and technique were consistently awesome. Unfortunately, only a few of these songs got much attention outside R&B circles, but their quality shows Staples' greatness as a soul vocalist. ~ Ron Wynn
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R&B - Released April 17, 2015 | Anti - Epitaph

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Soul - Released November 17, 2017 | Anti - Epitaph

Ten years after signing with the ANTI label, Mavis Staples pursues her impressive resurrection. Still joined by Jeff Tweedy, the great soul gospel priestess even hands him the wheel in this If All I Was Black, for which the band leader of Wilco has penned all the songs. After We'll Never Turn Back produced in 2007 by Ry Cooder, You Are Not Alone in 2010, One True Vine in 2013 and Livin' On A High Note in 2016 (on which she asked Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Justin Vernon a.k.a. Bon Iver, The Head & The Heart, tUnE-yArds, Neko Case, Aloe Blacc, Son Little, Valerie June and M Ward to participate), Pops Staples’ daughter inhabits each composition and her voice tames the lyrics of songs that couldn’t be more politically motivated. A major figure of the Civil Right Movement, a regular of great causes and militancy in songs, this lady masters these anti-Trump pieces with her usual class, with strong yet subtle criticisms—that are never Manichean nor childish—of an American in full regression. Above all, the blend of gospel inwardness, soul power and rhythm ‘n’ blues groove that she offers perfectly combines with Tweedy’s rustic and 'no added sugars' production. A great soul disc! © MZ/Qobuz
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Soul - Released July 6, 1979 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

R&B - Released July 20, 2010 | Anti - Epitaph

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Mavis Staples may not have a voice with the kind of range and pure power of an Aretha Franklin, but she understands the ins and outs of phrasing and nuance, and brings an inimitable, gritty passion to everything she sings, even into her seventies. She's also not afraid to walk right down the middle of the road between secular and sacred, fully aware that both the blues and gospel are really talking about the same thing -- the need to get to a better place. She performs this delicate synthesis well on You Are Not Alone, an album that finds her teamed with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, whose production on this project is surprisingly sympathetic to Staples' strengths, and more importantly, doesn't make her sound like an adjunct participant in a Wilco album. No, this is Mavis' show, and she grabs ahold of well-chosen covers like Randy Newman's “Losing You,” Allen Toussaint's “Last Train,” Reverend Gary Davis' “I Belong to the Band,” and John Fogerty's “Wrote a Song for Everyone” with conviction, wringing every bit of wisdom, anger, compassion, and joy out of them, while bringing a fresh perspective to traditional gospel pieces like “In Christ There Is No East or West,” “Creep Along Moses,” and “Wonderful Savior,” reminding that redemption is pretty hard work even in the best of times. She tackles a couple of Pops Staples pieces here, too, “Don’t Knock” and “Downward Road,” making this whole set a well-rounded portrait of Mavis Staples as she stands then, now, and tomorrow. Tweedy wrote several songs for the project, but only two, including the title track “You Are Not Alone,” appear here, and he wisely resisted any urge to overdo his sonic stamp on the album. Most tracks feature sturdy, simple, and subdued backing that allows Staples' voice to carry the show, highlighted by reverbed guitar reminiscent of Pops Staples' trademark sound, although only enough to suggest it -- nothing here gets in the way of Mavis' voice. You Are Not Alone is a solid outing that somehow amazingly manages to be both secular and sacred at once, and there is a stripped-down timelessness to it. It's gospel. It's blues. It's about love and redemption, and how each needs the other. You Are Not Alone won Best Americana Album at the 2010 Grammys. ~ Steve Leggett

Alternative & Indie - Released April 6, 2017 | Parlophone UK

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R&B - Released February 19, 2016 | Anti - Epitaph

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R&B - Released April 17, 2015 | Anti - Epitaph

Dance - Released April 21, 2017 | Parlophone UK

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Soul - Released May 26, 2017 | Blackbird Production Partners LLC

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Mavis Staples in the magazine