Mavis Staples’ You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy, who also wrote the title track, is one of my favourite albums from last year. The music from Mavis’s recording debut, Uncloudy Day, is just as essential as her most recent work. Uncloudy Day features Mavis as the lead vocalist in the family band, the Staple Singers, backed by her siblings’ harmonies and her father’s spidery, delta-blues guitar work. (“Pops” Staples, born in 1915, was acquainted with the legendary Charley Patton.) The sparse guitar work contrasted with the rich vocals brings to mind the similar work of Beach House, though Mavis’ vocal style is much more passionate than the detached, husky drawl of Beach House’s Victoria Legrand. Check out The Staple Singer’s “I’m Coming Home,” featuring a raw performance from Mavis, as well as the video for Beach House’s “Zebra” below.
The Staple Singers, “I’m Coming Home” (from Uncloudy Day, 1959)
Beach House, “Zebra” (from Teen Dream, 2010)