Picks and Pans Review: The Voice
updated 09/13/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/13/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Mavis Staples is one of the more potent voices of modern soul, but her roots are in gospel. And, on this stunning new album, she sings with a soaring, liberating power that can make you feel the intensity of a Sunday service, even if you're just lying on your couch or driving in your car.
In one of the stranger musical couplings, noted bad-boy Prince has produced and written most of the songs on this new disc, as he did in 1989 on Staples' Time Waits for No One. In Prince, Staples has found a fluid, funky guiding force, and in Staples, Prince has found a muse with a voice that can make your hair stand on end. On the title track, inspired by the Rodney King case, Staples unleashes her husky, snarling alto, tearing into the charged, mid-tempo track. The Voice refers to Jesus, but Staples has infused every song with gospel's sparkle, be it the juiced-up rap "A Man Called Jesus," a remake of Prince's "Positivity" or the sweeping bal lad "Blood Is Thicker Than Time."
With backup help from her family and members of Prince's New Power Generation, Staples carries gospel's urgency and humanity onto the pop charts again. (Paisley Park/Warner Brothers)