Recording information: Chicago Recording Company, Chicago, IL; The Blue Room, Princeton, NJ.
Only two months after the release of Don't Lose This, an album based on the final recordings of her father Pops, Mavis Staples issued Your Good Fortune, an EP made with fellow Anti- label artist Son Little. It came out around the same time as Mavis!, a documentary and celebration of Staples' 60 years as one of the most enriching and relevant voices in music. Producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Little -- his sound rustic and heartfelt, rooted in classic soul and blues, with added rhythmic heft applied from hip-hop -- is as viable an accomplice for Staples as Jeff Tweedy. There's a little more dust and grit in these four songs, split between originals and updates, than there is in the Tweedy sessions. There are no composer credits on the physical release, but Staples acknowledged that Little wrote the first two songs. The title cut is high-quality Southern gospel, where Staples questions her worth in front of an echoing trio of background vocalists (including Megan Livingston, Little's sister). "Fight" is a tightly tumbling protest song with bite: "Freedom and justice, well, they ain't yo' plaything/Prop up your puppets and you kill the real kings." Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," covered by the Pops-fronted Staples on 1962's Hammer and Nails (as "Dying Man's Plea"), has appropriately solemn backing, while a fresh version of Pops' own "Wish I Had Answered" (the original of which appeared on 1963's This Land), concludes the short set in rollicking, feverish fashion. Hopefully this is merely a teaser for a full-length collaboration. Staples and Little are a fine creative match. ~ Andy Kellman