Once the youngest member of the Staples Singers, Mavis Staples is now 68 years old and at the top of her game as a vocalist and interpreter of classic soul, blues and gospel.
Following the release of 2007's collection of traditional civil rights songs, We'll Never Turn Back, Staples teams up with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy on her new album. Recorded at Wilco's studio in Chicago, You Are Not Alone is produced by Tweedy, who wrote two of the album's songs.
A reassuring blues riff grounds "Only the Lord Knows" and fights off the moral uncertainty wafting through its verses. "What can you do when you can't trust anybody to tell you the truth?" sings Staples. Weighed down by a partisan world full of conflicting opinions, Staples seeks refuge in humility: "Only the Lord knows, and He ain't you."
The title track marches forward to slow and steady acoustic guitar that supports its soothing, spiritual feel.
Staples' vocals feel rich and significant and, like all great blues and gospel, ready to beat back the trials and tribulations of everyday life.