Mavis Staples - If All I Was Was Black

Published Monday 14th May 2018
Mavis Staples - If All I Was Was Black
Mavis Staples - If All I Was Was Black

STYLE: Gospel
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 168094-26376

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

In 2018, there seems to be as much division between rich and poor and black and white as there has ever been. In interviews Mavis Staples has talked that this means she feels her work is not yet done. 50 years ago she and the other Staple Singers were inspired by the preaching and then ultimately the assassination of Martin Luther King to expand their gospel music to address social as well as spiritual issues. The title track is a beautiful example as she sings "it's time for more love." The album contains the usual Staples optimism and yet in Trump's America, there's a hint of righteous anger as she sings "we don't want to rock the boat? Who told you that" and Jeff Tweedy's guitar erupts. Once again Tweedy does an excellent job helming the production and writes all the songs here with the ex-Wilko man duetting with Mavis on "Ain't No Doubt About It". There's a tight intensity on songs like "No Time For Crying" as Staples observes "there is work to do." "Build A Bridge" has a '70s throwback funk vibe and a lyric that talks about her life having significance and reminds her listeners that theirs do too. For American society to overcome its current divisions, individuals have to build bridges to their neighbours. "We Go High" is the perfect response in the age of fake news. We all need to love. At 78 years old, with a voice that has lost little of its passion or strength, Mavis Staples still has plenty to say to the whole community both church-goers and no-religion folk.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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