Mavis Staples: Livin’ on a High Note review – bring on the great and the good


There’s the feel of a Pitchfork lifetime achievement award about Mavis Staples’ 13th album, with a number of indie’s great and good, including Nick Cave and Bon Iver, writing the songs. No worthier candidate, of course: Staples’ voice accompanied the civil rights movement and inspired musicians from Bowie to Prince. But at times the music feels less like a tribute to her remarkable legacy than an exercise in smooth, award-ceremony funk. There are exceptions – Cave’s Jesus Lay Down Beside Me is a beautifully bruised gospel number; Action by Tune-Yards combines political anger with slinky call-and-response – but you wish more of Staples’ collaborators had followed her example by taking some risks.


Ally Carnwath

The GuardianTramp

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