Spun: Mavis Staples

By Jennifer Trieu

With Barack Obama’s decisive victory as President-elect of the United States, musical movers and shakers of the civil-rights movement in years past have widely supported the African-American leader and his drive for change. Civil-rights activist and soulful songstress Mavis Staples recorded Live: Hope At The Hideout in June 2008 at the Hideout, a renowned roots club in Chicago. Her concert at the Hideout is littered with raw and groovy songs echoing Obama’s message for hope and change.

Hope begins with a mediocre cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” that doesn’t fully capture the energy of Staples and her band. There are also instances in “Eyes On The Prize” where Staples uncomfortably ekes out slightly strained lower melodies despite her impressive vocal range. She redeems herself in the soulful spiritual “Wade In The Water” and in a moving performance of “Waiting for my Child.” “Freedom Highway” is an upbeat tune that showcases not only Staples’ vigour, but also her band’s tight rhythms and melodies. The songstress’ accompaniment consistently complements her growly and raw vocals with beautiful melodies and intricate rhythms that strengthen her performances at the Hideout in Chicago.

Though Staples’ voice strains a bit more now than in past performances, it is clear that she is still able to pump passionate energy into her music and concerts. Hope At The Hideout is not Staples’ best work, but her intense and soulful voice demonstrates that this songstress still knows how to put on a good show.

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