Artist: Pops Staples
Album: Don't Lose This
Release Date: 02/17/2015
He was ill and nearly 84. But in 1999, at his daughters’ urging, Roebuck Staples (“Pops” to the world) picked up his guitar, creating the tracks on Don’t Lose This.
Pops undoubtedly knew, like all God’s chosen bluesmen, that his time was nigh. So these songs–starkly immediate, prescient, bluesy, and spectral– bear the sunset stamp of his soul-stirring tremolo reverb, and find a man ruminating, confessing, praying. His voice is as sound, strong and pleading as when he was young.
Produced by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and Pops’ daughter Mavis (her heart-bearing duet with him on “Sweet Home” guarantees this track to be a family milestone). “Better Home,” a traditional revisited here from its ‘62 Staples reincarnation, is another gripping, time stopping four minutes and fifty seconds, wherein Pops and Mavis face the darkness together. “Always something / more or less / to destroy / my happiness” they wail. The serpentine “Somebody Was A Watching” and a field holler take on “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” make Don’t Lose This a masterful final statement. It is one that must also take into account the passing of Cloeatha in 2013, making this the last full Staples Singers recording.
– Mike Jurkovic