Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Mavis & Tweedy's "One True Vine": HUGE
Like Alfred Hitchcock & James Stewart or the Rolling Stones with Mick Taylor, it seems as if Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy have the potential to make history. While none of the artists I mentioned has anything to be ashamed of, the output while working together is arguably the finest work of their careers.
Mavis Staples and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy first made magic on 2010's "You Are Not Alone," a record that didn't necessarily have to work. When Prince got hold of Mavis Staples the output was essentially bad Prince music. But Jeff Tweedy understood who he was working with. He let Ms. Staples do what she does best without trying to make the legendary vocalist sound like she was guesting on a Wilco album. The end result was a beautiful collaboration of gospel, soul and country blues. Its strength lying naturally in the sound. Thank you, Jeff Tweedy.
The team is back with "One True Vine." There are no real surprises here and that's something for which we should be grateful. Jeff Tweedy knows what he has in Mavis Staples. He knew it wasn't broken, so he didn't try to fix it. Once again, this team delivers a record that will quite simply take your breath away.
I want to stress to those who instinctively shun gospel music that you needn't resist this record. The message is subtle. The delivery is blockbuster. From the haunting opener, "Holy Ghost" to the dreamy and uplifting "Far Celestial Shores," a tune penned especially for Mavis by the great Nick Lowe, to the gritty and personal thump of "I Like The Things About Me," "One True Vine" showcases all that's wonderful about music. It rocks in its own way and can at times, play with your heart. This record cares about us as much as it cares about itself. Jeff Tweedy's accomplishment here should not be taken lightly.