Mavis Staples: Live: Hope at the Hideout

By: Sarah Moore

This live album captures the great Mavis Staples in her homecoming concert at The Hideout in Chicago. Mavis (of The Staple Singers fame) performs some of her most familiar numbers from her 52-year career. In her deep, low alto voice, croaking and gutturally growling, she injects vitality into each phrase she sings. Mavis is backed by a three-piece band and three backing singers, but the spotlight is absolutely on her. Her rhythm and blues pieces fester in the low end, as bassist Jeff Turmes wallows in some muddy tones. Mavis spouts lines and rumbles with throaty soul as slow jams churn on and on.

"Wade in the Water" allows Mavis to really claim her reputation as a R&B soul mistress. The buzz created by the drums and bass lets the singer growl along with what seems like an improvised presence. The slow funk jam meditates with a thick bassline as gospel backup singers profess spirituality. Mavis lets the spirit of the music and the room move the songs, and as the spiritual significance of each piece reflects, Mavis' aura hypnotizes the venue with her timeless expressions. "We Shall Not Be Moved" begins with a deep bassline while Mavis sings proclamations with subtle variations in dynamics. She sings and speaks with certain authority powered by her direct experiences in the struggles of the civil rights movement, as if she herself wrote those very words.

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