From Prince to Bob Dylan to Ray Charles, Mavis Staples has made music with a diverse array of great songwriters over the course of her 53-year career. She continues this tradition on One True Vine, her second collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. The record is mix of covers and new songs, all performed with minimal instrumentation. A few tracks (including a striking rendition of Parliament Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That”) can be described as funky, but the majority of the album consists of expertly crafted sparse blues and soul, a perfect match for Staples’ rich contralto voice. In addition, the lyrical content of songs such as “Sow Good Seeds” and “I Like the Things About Me” reflects Staples’ history of civil rights activism. One True Vine manages to be relevant and classic at the same time.


Mavis Staples | One True Vine, $9.99, amazon.com

By Sarah C. Jones

This review appears in the Aug/Sept 2013 issue of BUST Magazine with Janelle Monáe. Subscribe now.