Tag: Charles Bradley Change For The World

Tomorrow marks the release of Mavis Staples’ latest album Livin’ On A High Note and the album will reportedly reference and draw from her 60+ year musical career influencing and defining gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues rock and even hip-hop — and that shouldn’t be surprising.  But the most interesting and compelling aspect of Livin’ On A High Note is that Mavis recruited a number of diverse and critically applauded contemporary artists to write songs specifically for her including Neko Case, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, tUnE yArDstUnE yArDs, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart and M. Ward — with Ward also taking up production duties. As the legendary soul singer explained in press notes “I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new. I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”

Now you might recall that I wrote about album single “High Note.” The single focuses on something that’s much easier said than done for most of us — taking the higher road despite how hurt, betrayed and disgusted you might be over a particular person or a particular situation, and doing so with grace and dignity. At the same time, the song’s narrator points out that taking the higher road requires wisdom and experience — sometimes embittering and hurtful ones to know when and how to do so. Sonically, the song pairs a loose and bluesy guitar line with Mavis’ legendary vocals in a song that radiates a comforting and soulful warmth that says “hey, I’ve been there, too.”

Recently, two more singles from the album were released — the Nick Cave penned “Jesus Lay Down Beside Me” and the tUnE yArDs penned “Action.” “Jesus Lay Down Beside Me” pairs slow-burning and bluesy guitar chords with Mavis Staples’ unmistakable vocals in what may arguably be the most gospel-leaning song on the entire album as the song’s narrator offers Jesus comfort for his suffering — with the understanding that even for the most religious their faith can seem both distant and easily questioned. “Action” is a shuffling and upbeat call and response-based song in which its narrator says that desperate times often require desperate measures — and that when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, that you’re getting up off your ass and doing something. And much like Charles Bradley‘s “Change For The World,” “Action” points out that civilization’s current plight is untenable and unsustainable until we’ve had enough and change it. It seems like we all need to listen to the old-timers, huh?

Rather unsurprisingly, over the past couple of years, Brooklyn-based soul singer, Charles Bradley has not only become a JOVM mainstay, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” has become a national and international sensation with the release of a documentary about his life, Charles Bradley: Soul of America and the release of his critically praised and commercially successful first two albums, No Time For Dreaming and Victim of Love.  Bradley has also developed a reputation for an incredibly heartfelt and powerful live show that has lead him to playing Bonnaroo,CoachellaGlastonburyPrimavera Sound FestivalThe Apollo TheaterThe Beacon Theatre and countless other venues of adoring fans across the globe.

April 1 2016 will mark the release of Bradley’s third full-length album Changes named after his popular and achingly soulful cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Changes” with Daptone Records labelmates The Budos Band, which was initially released as a Record Store Day 45 a couple of years ago. And with the forthcoming release of Changes, it’ll mark the first time that Bradley’s rendition of the song will be available digitally, as it’ll also appear on the album. The album’s second single “Changes For The World” is Bradley’s desperately heartfelt and earnest plea to the listener that we need to stop hiding behind hate, divisiveness  and religion and learn how to truly love one another with open hearts, minds and arms. I suspect that most of us would feel that he’s right — and that maybe it’s time to really start changing our world for the better.