Mavis Staples - Live Hope At The Hideout
While it is still sad to hear Mavis Staples' fearless, compassionate vocals not being supported by the gritty but right guitar of the late Pops Staples, she has done well in the new space she finds herself in. This is a hot live set that features the mix of covers and originals, funk and gospel, that made last year's star-studded "Well Never Turn Back" such a joy. While some of the songs work no better live than they did on that record (I think it is official: no one will really find a way to update "For What It's Worth" to anyone's satisfaction) "Live at Hope The Hideout" is righteous and rocking.
Guitarist Rick Holmstrom admirably supports Staples with alternately swampy and bluesy runs, with just enough echo to sound like some of Dylan's last few session men. Highlights are of course those tracks in which Staples has invested a lifetime of commitment and study-gospel-tinged tracks like "Wade in The Water," and "Down in Mississippi." There are two real stunners: "Waiting For My Child" and "This Little Light," in which Staples half-spoken oratory and impassioned testifying hits the soul right in the mainline, and are much more effective than the somewhat rather stiff , Civil Rights-inspired covers. Still, a decent version of "We Shall Not Be Moved and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" are always welcome, none moreso than when delivered by such a still inspired legend.
"Live Hope at The Hideout" is a heartfelt, occasionally sweaty, but always raw and honest outpouring of faith and testimony. Mavis Staples ought to be near the top of any list of 60s figures who are still vital and relevant.
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