R&B legend Mavis Staples' last album, 2007's We'll Never Turn Back, was a stirring concept record about the civil rights movement. The follow-up is more direct, bringing the singer back to her gospel roots with a collection of songs (including a few remakes of tunes she originally recorded with her family's group the Staple Singers) about faith, church and God. And, unlike the Ry Cooder-produced We'll Never Turn Back, You Are Not Alone's producer, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, doesn't mess around too much with tone. He basically sets up Staples — still sounding great at 71 — in the studio, adds a little texture here and there, and lets it all flow. The sound is more A.M. organic than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot moody. Still, the album's best songs are the two Tweedy wrote: the title track and "Only the Lord Knows," which releases a flood of faith and cements Staples' comeback.
Michael Gallucci writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.