Filed Under:

For Mavis Staples, 'One True Vine' Brings Together Kindred Spirits

Play associated audio

On their second collaboration, One True Vine, Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy assemble a story using songs written by various artists, dotted by frequent lyrical references to The Staple Singers. The album follows a narrative arc of struggle, acceptance and salvation that's mirrored in the crescendo and decrescendo of the music, starting out low and slow.

As Staples' new album builds, she wrestles with life's travails, but her faith is always there, offering refuge. Even a secular song, like Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That," feels deeply spiritual with Staples' bold voice leading the other singers as if heading up a church choir.

Staples brings the album gently back down at its end with the title track, which Tweedy wrote and originally recorded with Wilco. Tweedy not only produced the album, but he plays almost all of the instruments on it, as well, with an assist from his teenage son Spencer on drums. Tweedy's arrangements are stripped down and spacious, giving Staples room for her full range of vocal expression, from an R&B growl to gospel fervor. The studio atmospherics he's developed over years of self-recording put the iconic singer in an effective new framework, turning a legendary, distinctive voice into moody, contemporary roots music.

In the 1960s and '70s, Staples brought spirituality and social consciousness to a pop audience. She never stopped evolving as a musician, working with artists like The Band, John Scofield, Burt Bacharach and too many others to mention. In Tweedy, Staples has found a kindred spirit — a fellow musical seeker, a versatile collaborator and the perfect partner to recontextualize what she does best for a generation that grew up listening to bands like his.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Reggie Watts, Man Of Many Voices, Improvised His Way To Success

The comedian and Late, Late Show band leader beatboxes, imitates and impersonates with amazing accuracy. It was a phone call from Conan O'Brien that put Watts' one-man show into the spotlight.
NPR

At The Purple Pie Place, Where The Crusts Are Just Sweet Enough

Bobkat's Purple Pie Place is a fixture in Custer, S.D. From chicken pot pie to strawberry rhubarb, Trevor Yehlie and his family have been baking and serving pies at the local favorite since 2009.
NPR

SuperPACs Report Their Funds — And The Numbers Are Staggering

SuperPACs released their latest funding numbers Friday, and already it's clear that the committees' roles in 2016 will be gargantuan.
NPR

Despite Host Controversy, Amazon Takes A Chance On 'Top Gear'

The trio that made Top Gear the world's biggest car show will return to the small screen in a new show for Amazon Prime. The BBC canned one of its hosts last year after a fight with a producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.