We'll Never Turn Back

Album Review of We'll Never Turn Back by Mavis Staples.

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We'll Never Turn Back

Mavis Staples

We'll Never Turn Back by Mavis Staples

Release Date: Apr 24, 2007
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): R&B, Gospel

77 Music Critic Score
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We'll Never Turn Back - Very Good, Based on 3 Critics

The Guardian - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

The artist who Prince considers "the epitome of soul" will be 67 this year, but her work is not done. To go by her website, the former mainstay of the Staple Singers is a nostalgia act - "available for bookings in two separate formats" - but this record offers a different picture. Returning to her protest-singing roots, she has made an album of songs associated with the 1960s civil-rights movement.

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Entertainment Weekly - 79
Based on rating B+
79

The engine of ’70s gospel-pop hitmakers the Staples Singers gets a rootsy makeover on We’ll Never Turn Back, via a label very good at this sort of thing (Merle Haggard, Bettye LaVette). Guitarist/producer Ry Cooder’s tasteful, unfussy arrangements are sometimes saved from predictability by son Joachim, whose digital loops add frisson to songs using the civil rights movement as inspiration and backdrop. But Mavis Staples’ voice outshines all: rich, weathered, and full of fire, sometimes resolving in a cracked tone or a dark, knowing chuckle, her eyes still on the prize.

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AllMusic - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

The longest cut here is "My Own Eyes," where Mavis performs a tune she wrote -- it's an emotional reverie, recounting her own family's journey through the civil rights movement as inspired by the late Dr. King. Her message is not necessarily poetic, but it's deeply moving and urgent. When she raises her voice to proclaim "I saw it with my own eyes/So I know it's true," there's no doubting.

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