Pops Staples, “Friendship” from Don’t Lose This (2015): One Track Mind

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The sense of community, of family, certainly translated throughout the Staple Singers’ catalog. But there was something else, too — a stirring sense of regard, of friendship.

This was a family band that felt like it, and you hear that in every line of “Friendship,” the second advance taste of patriarch Pops Staples’ forthcoming third solo album, Don’t Lose This. But whereas the earlier “Somebody Was Watching” connects with the Staple Singers’ gospel roots, “Friendship” leans more toward their wonder-filled turn-of-the-1970s R&B sound.

The song’s essential sweetness is only broadened by the presence of Pops Staples’ hope-sprung vocals intertwining once more with daughters Mavis, Yvonne and the late Cleotha Staples. Pops died in 2000; Cleotha passed in 2013. Mavis Staples completed these sessions, recorded by Pops Staples in 1999 and then pushed aside for some 15 years.

She smartly brought in Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who produced Don’t Lose This, due February 17, 2014 via on dBpm/Anti- Records. Tweedy has, of course, overseen Mavis Staples’ two most recent solo efforts. He added bass, while Tweedy’s son Spencer sits in on drums to complete Pops Staples’ “Friendship.” A couple of weeks later, fans of the Staple Singers will then be treated to Freedom Highway Complete. This expanded reissue, due on March 3, 2015, focuses on a deeply uplifting 1965 concert at Chicago’s New Nazareth Church.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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