Album: Mavis Staples, You Are Not Alone (Anti-)

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The Independent Culture

Now into her seventies, Mavis Staples remains in fine fettle on this follow-up to 2007's civil-rights themed We'll Never Turn Back.

As on that project, a guest producer does Staples proud, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy replacing Ry Cooder, and devising a sublime blend of traditional gospel songs and several unusual cover versions, the best of which is surely her tender interpretation of the unbearably poignant "Losing You", the standout composition of Randy Newman's recent years, which could draw tears from a stone. Tweedy brings an offbeat guitar lurch to her father's "Downward Road" and punctuates "Creep Along Moses" with an abrasive electric guitar figure; but as ever, it's Staples' voice that's the star here, its smoky tone imposing a burnished grace on everything.

DOWNLOAD THIS Losing You; Creep Along Moses; Downward Road; Last Train