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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Artist Sat Apr 28 2007

Way down...

She's part of a legendary musical family, a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and is set to take the stage at Harlem's Apollo Theatre 40 years after she first stepped onto it. Chicago native Mavis Staples' new album, We'll Never Turn Back was released last week, and it certainly does not disappoint fans of her earlier work, and it may be a good starting point for those of a younger generation who may not be aware of her talents.

- Video - "Eyes on the Prize" - first single

At just a hair under an hour and twelve tracks, it's not the density that captivates, but, then again, you wouldn't be listening for density anyway. Her legendary voice conveys raw emotion like few in the current generation, and while most of the songs on display here are her renditions of gospel standards, they are songs rooted in the civil rights protests of the 60s, but aimed squarely at the political elite of today.

All told, the album's soundscapes are not overwhelming, letting her croon and growl as necessary and without distraction. She sings with such raw emotion that one cannot help but hear how her roots in gospel informs even her secular work. This isn't a gospel album in the traditional sense; sure, the majority of songs here out of the twelve are church standards, but few gospel singers would make a song about growing up in Mississippi some years ago. From "Down in Mississippi"...

They had a huntin' season, on the rabbit,
If you shoot him, you went to jail.
Season was always open on me,
Nobody needed no bail...
Way down
in Mississippi
Down, in Mississippi.
Down in Mississippi, where I was born.
Down in Mississippi, where I come from,
Way down."

For some reason, Mavis will not be heading to Chicago at any point in the near future; the closest she gets are shows in Wisconsin and Detroit.

The album is available, well, almost everywhere.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


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