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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Record Routine: Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy fulfill Pops Staples last wish

Don’t Lose This is Roebuck “Pops” Staples latest and last album. With such a developed career, it’s hard to fathom how this man came to be so influential in the music industry. Pops Staples was born on a Mississippi plantation in the 1910s and was the youngest of 14 children. He got involved with local blues guitarists as a young boy and went from a singer to a band leader. 

Don’t Lose This has a bittersweet message, and reflects on the great struggles of Pops Staples and his family. This album features Jeff Tweedy from Wilco on bass and guitar, along with his son Spencer on the drums. Pops Staple’s daughter Mavis brings her deep, throaty vocals in and worked diligently to finish her father’s work. 

It would be hard to match the soul and emotional connection portrayed on the album. A father-daughter combination is perfect for this genre of music. As I tuned into the music, I slowly got lost in the powdery vocals and incredible guitar licks. It was almost as if Pops Staples was sitting in the room with me telling his life story. As the songs slowly fade away, the anticipation grows.

This long awaited album, Don’t Lose This is going to be playing on repeat in every blues lover's head. Mavis Staples described a time when her dying father handed her his contributions to the recordings and followed with a simple, “Don’t lose this.” These 10 songs reflect a man who spent his life making the world a better place. One of my favorite songs, “Friendship,” is a wonderful piece about all the wonderful things Pops Staples did for strangers in his life. He describes everyone as being there for each other out in the sometimes-cold world—I don’t mean cold like Wisconsin. Another wonderful song on the album has strong ties to God and family, titled, “Somebody Was Watching.” 

Throughout the entire album, Staples and his fellow musicians pushed messages of companionship and struggle. At the age of 85, Staples passed away in 2000. His friends and family took it upon themselves to complete his work. Now, 15 years later, the album is finished. 

Rating: B+

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