Albums to watch

If All I Was Was Black

Mavis Staples

If All I Was Was Black

Album number sixteen from the veteran gospel and soul legend, written and produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy

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  1. 8.4 |   Paste Magazine

    If we need a voice to listen to right now—to educate us, to comfort us, to spur us into action—it’s hard to think of a better one than hers
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  2. 8.0 |   Q

    Gritty socio-political soul from R&B legend. Print edition only

  3. 8.0 |   The Observer

    Build a Bridge swells with Prince-like melody, No Time for Crying is stark and serious, and Peaceful Dream a gospel singalong. Inspirational work
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  4. 8.0 |   Mojo

    An album that opens full of tension, riot and discord - before the acoustic gospel of Peaceful Dream leads into strong pleas for universal love and understand and quests for personal redemption. Print edition only

  5. 8.0 |   Uncut

    Where Mavis' voice once a rangey, optimistic mezzo-soprano, her register has dropped dramatically to an emotionally rich, brassy contralto. It adds a growling intensity to lyrics that are dignified rather than angry. Print edition only

  6. 8.0 |   The Guardian

    Powerful, stirring protest songs
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  7. 8.0 |   The Independent

    10 new songs by Tweedy addressing modern social issues, custom-built for her warm soul contralto
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  8. 8.0 |   The FT

    The power is still there, and with it a sense of stature and purpose
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  9. 8.0 |   Loud And Quiet

    For all the grim social realities on ‘If All I Was Was Black’, the overriding emotion of the album is one of grace and love
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  10. 8.0 |   The Music

    Age is more than just a number for Mavis Staples - more experience, more talent (somehow) and more steam
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  11. 8.0 |   The Quietus

    Anger, love and the audacity of hope shine through on this third collaboration with Jeff Tweedy
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  12. 8.0 |   Drowned In Sound

    Tune-wise, there’s no obvious stand-out, and the record is best experienced as a whole whereby its message is most complete
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  13. 8.0 |   The 405

    Often times both troubling and soothing
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  14. 7.6 |   Pitchfork

    Mavis Staples presents her signature hope on the taut and lively If All I Was Was Black, another collaboration with Jeff Tweedy. But it doesn’t come as naturally as it once did, as she makes clear
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  15. 7.0 |   Spectrum Culture

    Staples is still wading into troubled waters, with a voice as bold and relevant as ever
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  16. 7.0 |   Exclaim

    Perfectly captures her gentle, loving and elegant way of making a political statement without sacrificing the passion she's built her career upon
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  17. 7.0 |   Rolling Stone

    The title track extends a hand over the wall of prejudice, while "Try Harder" is her mea culpa, a Civil Rights heroine admitting her own flaws but determined, at 78, to keep on pushing
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  18. 7.0 |   Slant Magazine

    Mavis Staples’s album is hopeful and optimistic not in ignorance of political reality, but in spite of it
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  19. 6.0 |   The Arts Desk

    Staples' enduring faith leads her to believe that we shall indeed overcome
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  20. 6.0 |   American Songwriter

    Mavis Staples remains a force of nature
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