Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples delivers more wall-to-wall joy on her triumphant new Anti- album, You Are Not Alone (September 14), than any other release you’re likely to hear this year.
Produced by fellow Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy at Wilco’s studio The Loft, the intimate and textured production showcases the iconic singer at her most powerful and fervent. You Are Not Alone mixes traditional gospel numbers with two new songs written for Mavis by Tweedy, plus her unique interpretations of songs by Pops Staples, Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, John Fogerty, Rev. Gary Davis and Little Milton.
The album features Mavis’s touring band of the last three years: Rick Holmstrom, guitar, vocals; Jeff Turmes, bass, vocals; Stephen Hodges, drums; Donny Gerrard, background vocals; plus special guests Jeff Tweedy on guitars, bass, and vocals; Wilco’s Patrick Sansone, keys, vibes; Mark Greenberg, vibes, keys; with additional background vocals by frequent Neko Case collaborators Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor, and Richard Parenti.
You Are Not Alone is Mavis’s second studio release for Anti. It follows her 2007 critical triumph, We’ll Never Turn Back, produced by Ry Cooder, which revisited the great songs of the civil rights era and prompted her hometown paper The Chicago Sun-Times to hail her as “an American treasure.” In 2008, Anti- issued a rapturously received live album, Live: Hope at the Hideout, which was named one of the Best Live CDs of All Time by Amazon.com’s editors and earned Mavis her first Grammy-nomination as a solo artist.
Mavis Staples is enjoying a major career resurgence, having become a festival favorite in recent years. This summer she will play Lollapalooza on August 6, and the Wilco-curated Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCa on August 14 with additional US and European tour dates to be announced soon.