Mavis Staples

We'll Never Turn Back | Anti-
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  June 12, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
This is an overlooked gem: soulful, beautifully performed, and socially relevant. As a child from a Mississippi Delta family and part of the gospel-based Staple Singers, Mavis was in the heart of the African-American civil-rights movement of the ’60s and early ’70s. With father Roebuck, sister Cleotha, and brother Pervis, she sang about discrimination and the promise of liberation in the likes of “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” and “I’ll Take You There,” and these freedom songs were lit by her incendiary, gravel-edged voice. On We’ll Never Turn Back, she brings that same fire, smoke, and spirit to classics and to the new songs she’s written with producer Ry Cooder. Supported by Cooder’s elegantly dirty guitar tone and the drumming of studio legend Jim Keltner and Cooder’s son Joachim, she huskily evokes the days of Jim Crow in the autobiographical “Down in Mississippi” and “My Own Eyes.” “99 and 1/2” gets updated, as she sings of the racially based neglect that contributed to the devastation of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. And “We’ll Never Turn Back” is an ode to the determination of the downtrodden. Although rooted in history, this album’s themes and passion are timeless.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Racial Issues, Social Issues, The Staple Singers,  More more >
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