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You Are Not Alone

4.4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Produced by fellow Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy at Wilco s studio The Loft, You Are Not Alone showcases the iconic singer at her most powerful and fervent. The album mixes traditional gospel numbers with two new songs written for Mavis by Tweedy, plus her unique interpretations of songs by Pops Staples, Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, John Fogerty, Rev. Gary Davis and Little Milton.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 14, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Anti
  • ASIN: B003RDPYCG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,661 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
You can't really classify Mavis--she's less a gospel singer or soul singer and more a piece of American history in musical form, and she uses her voice to channel her unique experience and her special spirit.

On this album she does sing quite a few gospel songs, and you can really hear how vital her faith is to her life. But her band is a rocking, rootsty, bluesy trio, her backup singers range from indie rockers (the Neko Case affiliated duo of Nora O'Connor and Kelly Hogan) to 70's-power ballad veterans (Donny Gerrard sang lead on a Top Ten hit for Skylark that Tupac sampled), and with Jeff Tweedy picking decidedly non-gospel songs by Fogerty, Randy Newman, Little Milton and Allen Touissant plus writing two new ones for her to sing, the record easily transcends the "gospel" tag. The result is a rollicking set of songs with the common denominator being Mavis' force of nature voice soaring, celebrating, whispering and goading you into smiling and nodding and singing along.

While not every song totally works ('Creep Along Moses' is a little too stuttery and off-the-wall for me), the halfway track, "I Belong To the Band" epitomizes the album: Mavis singing an old-timey standard with all her heart and soul and creating a joyful, jumping house party singalong with a fat bassline and a killer guitar solo. And even an atheist can love that...
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Mavis Staples as part of the Staples Singers and especially since her early outings as a solo artist on Volt with Steve Cropper and Don Davis producing. Since the demise of Stax, Mavis had a great album produced by Prince and Al Bell. Since then, apart from an outing with Lucky Peterson on Verve, her output has been very spotty. On this album, she's back in great form. I've not followed Jeff Tweedy but his production is really sympathetic to her voice as well as soulful - with a lead guitar that while lacking some of the melody is reminiscent of Pops Staples. A really good album. Also sounds better on CD than on the Amazon sound clips.
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Format: Audio CD
What a treat to stumble onto this album streaming alongside Robert Plant's brilliant new record "Band of Joy" on the the excellent New Public Radio. Mavis Staples voice at the age of 71 remains a minor miracle and her gospel zeal is fundamentally intact. On her version of "Pops" Staples "Downward Road" the third song on this new album she openly berates those amongst us who are "unbelieving souls" and it is indeed a fearsome salutatory warning to all ungodly pagans (I must pop along to the the old non conformist chapel one Sunday!) Indeed listening to her enduring and rich deep soul contralto it suggests that being on the side of the lord has done her no harm whatsoever with this set of deeply rooted gospel songs being her best in years. An additional and more secular factor may also be the presence of Wilco's resident genius Jeff Tweedy providing the albums production and a couple of songs including the gently rolling country soul of the title track which must be one of the best songs that Tweedy has never recorded with his own band.

The Tweedy-Staples pairing does not seem that likely a partnership but shared love of both of them for Chicago blues, gospel and R&B provides the unifying force and it works a treat. No where is this more apparent than on the stirring "Creep along Moses" which is the type of gospel powerhouse infused with the emotion that is at the heart of soul music and is an aural delight to savour. It takes considerable restraint not to utter a loud "hallelujah" at the songs conclusion. The mood slows on Staples dramatic cover of Randy Newman's "Losing you" which is infused with so much genuine authenticity and passion that it will barely leave a dry eye in the house particularly when she sings "Do you know how much you mean to me?
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
Sorry for the pun, but it's true. I am usually full of snark, but I cannot deny a profound appreciation for the national treasure that is this woman's voice. Mavis is spunky, funky, and (though I want to say "chunky", just to keep the rhyme scheme going) the epitome of roots-bound gospel. This album did not disappoint me, though there are certainly numbers in it which inspire more than others. I cannot resist the urge to dance when "I Belong to the Band" plays; I always sing along, with inspiration in my heart, on "You Are Not Alone"; I look for nearby wood to provide knocking sounds on "Don't Knock".

The 4-star rating is primarily due to issues with the LP itself. For one thing, I loathe the fact that almost every new vinyl record is split up onto two albums. I'm sure there is some hipster reasoning for this, probably having to do with sound quality, but it's annoying. Perhaps I should research the reasons behind this, but for now I am content to kvetch. Additionally, why are these new vinyl records so much thicker than the old ones? It messes with my stacking habits. Also... this Mavis album only plays normal at 45 rpm, so when I put it in rotation with other albums, she always sounds like Satan when she first comes on, and then the following album sounds like the Chipmunks.

That's a minor complaint from a Luddite who hates change. Mavis still rocks.
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