Mavis Staples’s voice has coarsened over the years, but on Have a Little Faith (Alligator), her first album in eight years, she recalls the sanctified funk she recorded for Stax in the 70s and her early folk-gospel work with the Staple Singers on Vee-Jay in the 50s; on “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” she returns to her very roots, singing the first song family patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples taught his children (the arrangement is credited to him). Throughout, her faith is tested and reaffirmed: on “Ain’t No Better Than You” she laments a fallen world blinded by hate but resolutely insists that a change is bound to come, and on “God Is Not Sleeping” her choked delivery approaches the wracked spiritual fervor that made her 50s Vee-Jay performances some of the most apocalyptic in the gospel canon. Sunday 11/28, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000, sold out. All ages.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.