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Roebuck "Pops" Staples: Don't Lose This

Album Notes

Don't Lose This is another positive result -- a gift, really -- from the creative partnership of Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy, an alliance that previously brought the Grammy-winning You Are Not Alone (2010) and One True Vine (2013). Prior to his December 2000 death, Pops Staples was in the process of making his fourth solo album. While enjoying a listen to its unfinished recordings, he said, as recalled by Mavis in a promotional clip, "Don't lose that, don't lose it." Over a decade later, Mavis -- with co-production, guitar, and bass from Tweedy, and drums from Tweedy's son Spencer -- fulfilled her promise. It can be strange to hear original and new elements at once, but nothing is as incongruous as the drum machine heard on Pops' previous solo album (1994's Father Father), and the message always gets through. As with any other recording involving Pops Staples, gospel, blues, and soul are indivisible, and the combination of his voice and tremolo -- especially when supported by family -- is like nothing else. The set begins with an original, a low-key and relaxed number where Pops sings of desperation and salvation: "Now my bad time is better than my good time used to be." Mavis takes the lead for "Love on My Side," a song that could have easily appeared on her Tweedy albums. The moments that stir the most are the ones where Pops' work seems to have been left untouched, as on a simple, effective version of "Nobody's Fault But Mine." ~ Andy Kellman



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