12 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Staple Singers made a major contribution to the civil rights movement with their gospel music and socially conscious R&B, and Mavis Staples’ rich, low-register voice was at the forefront of their legendary sound. On We’ll Never Turn Back she turns in some funky and high-energy reinventions of such anthems as “Eyes on the Prize,” “This Little Light,” “99 and ½,” and “Turn Me Around,” honoring the tradition of the songs while making them contemporary and relevant. There are also stunning updates of older gospel blues numbers like “Jesus on the Main Line” and “I’ll Be Rested,” and a blistering rendition of J.B. Lenoir’s “Down in Mississippi,” in which she adds a touching autobiographical anecdote over a deep, swampy groove. A big part of the album’s success is Ry Cooder, who simply does a brilliant job as both guitarist and producer. The two mesh so well it’s hard to believe it’s their first time recording together. They’re both instinctive musicians who rely heavily on feel, and they create some magic here, with help from the original SNCC Freedom Singers and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on backing vocals. Full of power, soul, and grace, this is the best solo recording of her career, and it’s certain to be one of the strongest releases of 2007.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Staple Singers made a major contribution to the civil rights movement with their gospel music and socially conscious R&B, and Mavis Staples’ rich, low-register voice was at the forefront of their legendary sound. On We’ll Never Turn Back she turns in some funky and high-energy reinventions of such anthems as “Eyes on the Prize,” “This Little Light,” “99 and ½,” and “Turn Me Around,” honoring the tradition of the songs while making them contemporary and relevant. There are also stunning updates of older gospel blues numbers like “Jesus on the Main Line” and “I’ll Be Rested,” and a blistering rendition of J.B. Lenoir’s “Down in Mississippi,” in which she adds a touching autobiographical anecdote over a deep, swampy groove. A big part of the album’s success is Ry Cooder, who simply does a brilliant job as both guitarist and producer. The two mesh so well it’s hard to believe it’s their first time recording together. They’re both instinctive musicians who rely heavily on feel, and they create some magic here, with help from the original SNCC Freedom Singers and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on backing vocals. Full of power, soul, and grace, this is the best solo recording of her career, and it’s certain to be one of the strongest releases of 2007.

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