Rating: Four stars. Comeback stories are great, and when it’s someone who seems as sweet and down-to-earth as Mavis Staples, it’s even better.
There’s been renewed interest in the 73-year-old soul and gospel singer’s career in recent years. Staples won a Grammy for Best Americana Album for 2010’s “You Are Not Alone.”
That album was produced by fellow Chicago native and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, and was one of the liveliest efforts turned in by Staples.
The two have gotten back together for “One True Vine,” a new release of covers and original material that was written by Tweedy and Nick Lowe.
The songs penned by Tweedy are fairly simple musical arrangements. On both the title track and “Jesus Wept,” its Staples’ dynamic voice that carries the songs.
On this album, Staples takes a more reserved approach when delivering her lyrics. “One True Vine” isn’t as upbeat as her last album, but it doesn’t need to be. This is easy Sunday morning listening at its finest.
Cover songs help round out the rest of the album. Among them are her versions of Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That” and the Staple Singers’ “I Like The Things About Me.” The latter gets an updated sound complete with a fuzz-covered guitar solo. It’s a great take on the song that proves reimagining old hits can still be worthwhile, if it’s done right.
Tweedy plays nearly every instrument on the album except drums, which were played by his 17-year-old son, Spencer. The two provide a solid musical backbone while getting out of the way to let Staples do her thing.
“One True Vine” is yet another solid effort from a classic voice that deserves to be heard.