Mavis Staples appeared on Letterman tonight, backed by, among others, Jeff Tweedy, who produced her latest album, You Are Not Alone. She and Tweedy will perform Wednesday on The Colbert Report.
Staples and Tweedy are an unlikely pairing that, upon listening to You Are Not Alone, make perfect sense. Tweedy resurrects Staples Singers classics like “Don’t Knock” and “Downward Road,” which Staples nails with a voice that’s equal turns rousing and plaintive, intimate and expansive. Tweedy contributes two new songs, the better of which is the title track, a warm cut of soul comfort food culminating with the refrain, “I want to get it through to you/You’re not alone.”
There’s also a CCR cover (“Wrote A Song For Everyone“) and a cover of “In Christ There Is No East Or West,” whose wispy accompaniment forces Staples to turn down her voice and allow room for the recent Wilco flourishes like mellotron, celeste and vibraphone. (Wilco multi-instrumentalist Patrick Sansone shows up for those.) But nothing brings out Ben’s inner black woman like the rousing “Creep Along Moses,” which Pitchfork dubs “party gospel.” We’re starting a petition to have this sung in every white church before the end of the year. (Be not afraid, fellow white people! There is a guitar solo.)
Also, a long overdue Voreplay is in the works. Stay tuned.