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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mavis Staples - One true voice
One of the high points of recent years for those with a love for "real music" was the pairing together of veteran blues/gospel singer Mavis Staples who enlisted Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, a fellow native of Chicago to produce the Grammy-winning "You Are Not Alone". This was one of the finest albums of that or any year and Staples blues take on the double pairing of "Too Close...
Published 13 months ago by Red on Black

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay.
Not as good as the promo. She is a great singer but the over all impression left me wanting more bluesy gospel.
Published 12 months ago by Dennis F.


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mavis Staples - One true voice, June 25, 2013
This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
One of the high points of recent years for those with a love for "real music" was the pairing together of veteran blues/gospel singer Mavis Staples who enlisted Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, a fellow native of Chicago to produce the Grammy-winning "You Are Not Alone". This was one of the finest albums of that or any year and Staples blues take on the double pairing of "Too Close To Heaven/I'm On My Way To Heaven Anyhow" was so deep it was almost primal. What great news then to see the two re-unitied and producing what is for all intents and purposes a follow up but with an even stronger gospel base. Staples is now well into her seventies and her voice remains an instrument which undoubtedly has the firm backing of the Lord providing its divine inspiration. It is by no means perfect, sometimes falters and there is the odd blemish but all this adds to its raw power rather than detracts from it. The mood of the album is subdued but infused with raw emotion. Tweedy's production assists this by stripping back the arrangements almost to bare boned acoustics. It is not completely susprising bearing in mind his own recent production duties with slow core masters Low, that Tweedy starts off Staples with a cover of one of their most recent songs the ethereal country of "Holy Ghost". The pattern of this song devised by Duluth's most famous band works perfectly for Staples voice and it is a brilliant start. Even better is the menace that Tweedy introduces into the old spiritual "Every step of the way" and that voice infuses it with an emotion that most singers strive for but never achieve. Much more surprising is the sprightly take on Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That" which does on initial hearings appear slighty out of place but eventually fits the album like a glove.

Mavis Staples voice can range from a churchy low register to an hurricane which could tear the roof off. This album tends to play to the former element in more restrained acoustics of songs like "Jesus Wept" and the lovely slow funk of an album highlight the cover of Nick Lowe's "Far Celestial shores" which has Tweedy's musical stamp all over it. The more traditional gospel songs here also work brilliantly not least "What are they doing in heaven today" and another song associated with Doc McKenzie and the Hi Lites "Sow Good Seeds". Perhaps if there is one slip on the album its the rather standard version of "I like the things about me", but Staples is to much of a great artist to sustain a prolonged slip. The final two songs on the album comprise a great acoustic guitar driven "I woke up this morning (with my mind on Jesus) " that shuffles along beautifully and finally the albums title track brings it all to conclusion with a fitting showcase of deep slow blues which should really see a statute erected in Washington DC to this great singer while she is still alive to tell her how much she really means to us all.

It is rumoured that Staples is working on her memoirs and she has a treasure torve of stories and inspiration to share. She recently talked of her love for Dr Martin Luther King and stated on the wider musical front "that I feel so honoured that I have worked with Curtis Mayfield, Bob Dylan, the greatest poets in the world. So I've had just a wonderful, wonderful life. If I leave here tomorrow, I have nothing to ask for, I have left with everything done that I wanted". This is a fine reflection but we must hope that there remains a good few years left in the tank of this remarkable singer because any one who makes music this good over such a long time deserves a few more decades to come.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Effort From a Living Legend, July 2, 2013
This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
You know what's sad? That more veteran, legendary artists don't receive their just due or rightful acclaim. Sure, Mavis Staples is long past her prime, but the contralto's most recent album One True Vine is easily more well-rounded compared to albums by artists more than half-her age (74). Staples may not 'let loose' as much as she has in the past, but One True Vine is another fine addition to a rich discography (particularly with The Staple Singers). A tight ten songs at a brief 35 minutes, One True Vine packs a mighty, inspired punch.

One True Vine opens with a relatively unknown, obscure number in "Holy Ghost", a cover of indie-rock band Low. Given spiritual, roots-driven nature of One True Vine, "Holy Ghost" is the perfect opener. Rather than receiving a truly rousing portrayal, "Holy Ghost" sort of 'breathes' on the listener, anointing with a quieter, more relaxed energy. Jeff Tweedy original "Every Step" opens somewhat restrained, but constantly evolves including more instrumentation and accentuating backing vocalists. The results are nothing short of magnificent, as "Every Step" gives Staples a 'brand new classic' of sorts that should appeal equally to gospel and R&B audiences. Capping off the exceptional opening trio, Parliament gets fine treatment on cover "Can You Get To That", which Staples funkily tackles. Solid production work by Tweedy certainly doesn't hurt either.

"Jesus Wept" continues to showcase Staple's impressive vocals, age considered or not. It runs a bit long, but the folksy, six-eight ballad still awes. "Far Celestial Shore" contrasts, returning to a quicker tempo and more brevity. On "What Are They Doing in Heaven" things slow once more, but not in a draggy sense. Once more in a gospel-driven six-eight, Staples continues to both uplift the soul and make the listener reminisce back to old-school soul and Americana music. "Sow Good Seeds" epitomizes 'old school', but it's message remains relevant and worthwhile. "I Like the Things About Me" digs back to Staples' roots, covering The Staples Sisters soundly, much with the same vigor as the earlier "Can You Get To That". Penultimate cut "Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind On Jesus)" gives the traditional spiritual new life, while one last original, title-track "One True Vine", closes appropriately. The sole quibble about the closer is the absence of backing vocals, which tend to add more 'spark' to the album throughout.

Ultimately, Mavis Staples does her thing - and always has. She electrifies most on the covers, but strength of "Every Step" can't be underwritten. Other than a few minor rubs here and there, there is little to complain about. Staples could've inserted more ad libs as opposed to remain married to the melody, but that is nitpicking by my estimations. Anyone who is a fan of classic Americana, gospel, and soul should be pleased by this exceptional effort from one of music's living legends. 4 stars.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mavis Meeting Herself Coming The Other Way, June 26, 2013
This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
When Mavis Staples voluntarily collaborated with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy for her 2010 album You Are Not Alone, it won a Grammy Award. But in all honest I simply wasn't taken it by the musical collaboration behind it. And still am not. Mavis Staples as a vocal talent and cultural icon is incomparable. And in his time Jeff Tweedy has a tremendous musical talent all his own. Now I'm aware of the Staple Singers folk-soul back round in their salad days. Yet Mavis seems to function better when the instrumentation is more closely attuned to her own talents. What made me stream this album to give it another try,since I wasn't interested in buying it was hearing Mavis herself comment that, while she found her Staples classics very easy and natural for her that Tweedy's song selections presented more of a vocal challenge for her. So the results of this album,while not ideal are a bit more appealing to me personally than its predecessor.

"Holy Ghost" begins the album with Tweedy's very gentle acoustic guitar playing to Mavis's own little gospel symphony of vocals. "Every Step" starts out with a similar acoustic based blues before a stark reverved funk rhythm comes in to give the song some extra edge. Mavis does George Clinton's "Can You Get To That Here",actually a far cleaner recorded version that Funkadelic's 1971 original,yet is extremely true instrumentally and vocally to the original. One of the favorite things I've ever heard Mavis do in her career actually. "Jesus Wept","What Are They Doing In Heaven Today" and "Sow Good Seeds" are lyrically in Mavis's traditional and almost pantheistic religiously observational style-yet with plenty of that gospel righteousness standing in contrast to the spare country/blues arrangements.

After the thoughtful country flavored "Far Celestial Shores" there's the excellent "I Like The Things About Me",an excellent Memphis styled deep funk/soul take on a lyric focusing on a modern day take on the self respect and positive self image,again very much in tune with Mavis's salad days. "Wake Up One Morning (With My Mind On Jesus)" is a stomping gospel/acoustic funk number in the finest tent show tradition whereas the title song is right out of the early Staple Singers' folk/soul gospel style. As with all of the tracks here there is one thing missing and my only strong complaint about this album-it focuses so much on the "naturalness" of the live instrumentation that important touches such as Pop Staples' styled reverbed guitar are not heard. To be this is the sound that bought out the most richness in Mavis's uniquely husky and broad ranged pipes. And while this album is meant to be felt as well ad heard,which it definitely is, its still one or two small yet significant touches away from a masterpiece. Mavis's voice represents vitality of human spirituality. And my own wish was that her music with Tweedy would express that a bit more than it does instrumentally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this lady, December 31, 2013
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This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
Another Mavis treasure. Just when you think she may have made her last records out pops another joyous work from the legend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great music, and spiritual, January 8, 2014
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This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
I bought this CD after seeing Staples on the Colbert Report. This is a great CD, and a great gift. I've shared it with several folks, all of whom love it too. It probably falls in the "easy listening" category - not Musaak, but definitely not particularly edgy. The songs generally are melodic and harmonious in a way that makes them fairly easy to sing along with, and Mavis &co have very pleasant voices themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfull Album, December 10, 2013
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This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
Wonderfull album, I just love it. Truly gospel in the texts and the voice , extraordinary roots folk, gritty orchestration.
I would love to hear Mavis Staples with 16 Horse Power, whose sound is not far from Wilco's
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another incredible musical journey with Mavis, November 24, 2013
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This review is from: One True Vine (MP3 Music)
Come on, everything Mavis touches is vocal gold. And with Kelly Hogan helping on backup, and the Tweedy boys.... how can you NOT love this album?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Music to Reflect with, September 23, 2013
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This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
One True Vine is an album that that grows on you the more often you listen to it. I recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, September 10, 2013
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Music Griot (washington, dc) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One True Vine (Audio CD)
This is an excellent roots cd in the fine tradition of not only The Staple Singers but the string of fine unplugged and rootsy Americana CDs Mavis has released over the last decade for Anti Records and Alligator Records.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mavis will move you!, September 6, 2013
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This review is from: One True Vine (MP3 Music)
This is an amazing album. Full of inspiration. I'm not a Christen but I love this album for it's depth and variety.
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One True Vine
One True Vine by Mavis Staples (Audio CD - 2013)
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