Saturday, May 25, 2019

Album Review: Mavis Staples - We Get By

Mavis Staples will be celebrating 80 years in July, but her music remains as vital and youthful as ever. That's because Soul, Rhythm and Blues and Gospel don't age: they are timeless expressions of universal feelings, as relevant today as they ever were.

The LP is produced by Ben Harper who brings an authentic, earthy quality to the project. There are no hip-hop beats, no electronics and no contemporary Rn'B production. No lush arrangements, no sweeping strings and no overblown performances. Only the bare essentials to showcase the voice and the material. 

And thankfully, the material is top-notch and rather diverse: there are  beautiful soul ballads like Never Needed Anyone, Heavy On My Mind and the splendid We Get By, a duet with Ben Harper that is destined to become a Rn'B classic on the level of People Get Ready. There is some funk on Brothers And Sisters, some blues with opener Change and its shuffle rhythm and razor-sharp guitar solo, and there is, of course, a whole lot of soul. While never being overtly topical, the lyrics address our troubled times in the tradition of great socially conscious Rn'B like Songs in the Key of Life or What's Going On.

Aretha Franklin has been gone almost a year now and Mavis Staples is one of our last connections to a by-gone era of classic soul music: she has been the witness and even the participant of several major musical and societal events of the past century in America. This album is her testimony.

Genre: Soul 
Release Date: May 24th, 2019
Label: Anti
Rating: 8/10

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