For Mavis Staples, 'One True Vine' Brings Together Kindred Spirits | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
NPR

Will We See Veto Battle On Capitol Hill?

With President Obama promising to vetoes, what are the possibilities of a few veto overrides during the next two years? NPR's Arun Rath puts that questions to the National Journal's Fawn Johnson.
NPR

3 Voices, 1 Threat: Personal Stories Of Cyberhacking

In President Obama's State of the Union address, he gave fresh emphasis to a problem that has been in the headlines: cybersecurity. Here are three people who have experienced security breaches.

Leave a Comment

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