The music giant continues to create timeless music
Chicago native Mavis Staples is only a few months away from turning 80 years old and her vivacious and infectious personality shines brighter than ever through her most recent album release. Since 1969, Staples discography has grown to be a beast in its own nature. Her strength in the R&B soul world has created memories for people around the globe. We Get By, coming just two years after her 2017 If All I Was Was Black written and produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, is an album that falls perfectly into place in the long line of powerful solo albums Staples has released since the early 2000s.
With the help from friend and singer-songwriter Ben Harper, We Get By demonstrates the matured vocal range and depth of Staples’ voice and her insane amount of faith and love. The evolution of the singer-songwriter is found all over the album. Harpers lyrics and Staples vocals make for a perfect duo in tracks like “Change” and “Brothers and Sisters.” A call for justice, peace and equality shows a powerful yet isolated version of Staples. In tracks such as “Hard to Leave” and “Heavy on My Mind” Staples demonstrates a subtle, vulnerable side yet sounds quite fierce in her delivery. The use of electric guitar helps tracks like “Anytime” and “Sometimes” feel like you are sitting in the middle of a jazz club listening to Staples pour her soul out on stage. The finesse of the lyrics mixed with the assembled band and the outstanding vocals makes for wholesome, good music. The album ends with “One More Change,” a track dedicated to taking a moment to reflect on the good and bad of the present day. With a mesmerizing message and a soothing hook, the song is a classic Staples ending to a great album.
The decades of experience both Staples and Harper have in the musical world and the real world is spun together like a family quilt in this album. From the songs to the actual album artwork, We Get By is a demonstration of civil rights work that still needs to be done today. The artwork for the album, by Gordon Parks, shows six African American children looking into a park they were not allowed into. Although prejudice and racism still persist today, Staples doesn’t want to lose faith in a better tomorrow. Just as the world continues to evolve, so does Staples and We Get By is a checkmark of success in her career.