On the cover of Mavis Staples’ awe-inspiring new album, the 71-year-old living musical treasure smiles radiantly with wide-eyed excitement. And if you had released an album as good as You Are Not Alone, you would smile the same way.
Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, You Are Not Alone is not the legendary gospel and R&B singer’s attempt at an indie-record. Instead it is a masterfully crafted album that allows Mavis’ majestic voice – a voice that has been soothing our souls for over forty-years – to stand front and center. Tweedy’s production is pure perfection. The gospel-tinged feel is highlighted by a smooth soulful delivery with urgent tasteful guitar work from Rick Holmstrom, whom Staples has referred to as “Pops Jr.” referencing her father, the founder and guitarist of the Staple Singers.
Tweedy’s production (along with Wilco bandmate Pat Sansone’s shimmering work on the keys), does add a tasteful, modern twist to Staples' gospel sound – most notably on the album highlight, the Tweedy penned title track – but it is a wholly welcome and gives new life Staples' always amazing voice.
You are Not Alone is out now on Anti- Records.