Much ink has been spilled on the legendary Staple Singers and on Mavis Staples – so much ink that it would be pointless for me to repeat things that countless others before me have said; however, what I will say is that this year looks to be a big year for Mavis Staples and her remaining siblings. Last month, marked the posthumous release of Pops Staples’ last recorded output, Don’t Lose This, an effort that required the assistance of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and a few other guest musicians.
Next month, will see the release of Mavis Staples’ Good Fortune EP. Produced by acclaimed, up-and-coming soul artist Son Little, the four song EP pairs Staples’ timeless vocals with a sound that meshes soul, hip hop and rock in a sort of post modernist pastiche. EP title track, “Good Fortune” has the legendary soul vocalist asking the most pertinent and important questions that we find ourselves asking – are our lives based on destiny or on coincidence? Why is life full of suffering and sorrow? What’s the purpose of all of this? And yet, the narrator of the song finds that their faith is stronger as a result of the life they’ve led – that in fact, they feel blessed. Her vocals are backed by a eerie and ominous soundtrack comprised of ethereal organ, bluesy waltz-like guitar chords and a looped hip-hop-like beat. It gives the song an anachronistic sound that resembles the dusty soundscapes of T Bone Burnett, if done right before the apocalypse.
It’s a powerful testament of faith in a time that seems to need more of it and when music needs more of it, to be honest.