WHO IS SHE? The Grammy-winning gospel-blues icon, civil rights activist and all-around living legend who’s about to celebrate her 80th birthday — and her 70th year in music.
WHAT IS THIS? Her 14th solo studio album and first collaboration with blues singer-guitarist and producer Ben Harper — after a trio of acclaimed releases helmed by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy that kicked off her well-deserved late-career resurgence.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Not surprisingly, Harper’s input, impact and involvement give the disc a bluesier, simpler and more traditional vibe than Tweedy’s rootsier, looser and more experimental creations. But ultimately, it sounds like no one but the mighty Mavis Staples in full command of her tremendous abilities.
WHEN SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? At the precise midpoint between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Stirring, powerful, sincere, spiritual, uplifting, life-affirming, wise, reflective, grounded, timeless.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Groovier and grittier fare like Change and Stronger let Harper flex his fretboard muscles — and their Band-like title-track duet is a stunner — but ballads like Heavy on My Mind and Never Needed Anyone are Staples’ home turf.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK? That they probably need to go to church more often.
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Anytime your soul needs a dose of comfort food.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A BATH, WHAT KIND OF BATH WOULD IT BE? Deep, perfectly warm and infused with soothing oils.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? Put some money in the plate.