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Over half a century after her voice was at the forefront of America’s civil rights era, Mavis Staples is still crying out for change. The former Staple Singers icon, who turns 80 in July, is in fearsome, eclectic form on We Get By. Staples knows the value and importance of her work, and she’s not interested in confusion or complacency. The electric charge of opening track “Change” sets an urgent tone from the outset, and the only response is to listen for further instructions.

Where her previous two collections were collaborations with M. Ward and Jeff Tweedy respectively, here Ben Harper takes the songwriting-production helm. The minimal guitar/bass/drums line-up gives things a retro, classic feel, but also maintains the focus on Staples’ voice, which has deepened slightly over the years but lost none of its heartfelt power and expression.

Mavis has always strived to make us feel stronger. She is a remarkable role model bringing us remarkable, enviable spirit, captured here as well as it’s ever been. We Get By is arguably her finest, most moving and cohesive disc which, considering her extensive catalog, is saying plenty.