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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Have a Little Faith

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Aug
Have a Little Faith
Sounds like … rootsy, gospel-infused inspirational blues/rock for fans of artists like the Staple Singers, Isaac Freeman, the Blind Boys of Alabama and traditional quartet musicAt a glance … Staples' distinctive voice and the range of themes on this album make it a welcome addition to the collection of any blues or roots music fanTrack ListingStep into the LightPops' RecipeHave a Little FaithGod Is Not SleepingA Dying Man's PleaAin't No Better Than YouI Wanna Thank YouI Still Believe in YouAt the End of the DayThere's a Devil on the LooseIn Times Like TheseWill the Circle Be Unbroken

Mavis Staples' voice is distinctive and unmistakable: a warm, rich, earthy contralto with a hearty rasp. It's the voice of someone who's lived and loved hard, and gained the warmth and wisdom that comes with it. She developed that voice as one of the renowned Staple Singers, a blues/rock/gospel/inspirational group that included her late father and siblings. Their many awards include induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Have a Little Faith, Staples' eighth solo project, continues the Staple Singers' tradition of positive, informative "message songs" that are sometimes explicitly Christian and other times generally inspirational. Thematically, these bluesy-rock songs include the descriptive truth-telling of the blues, the cautionary tone of spirituals, the nostalgia of folk music and the hopeful posture of gospel.

Highlights include "Step Into the Light," which features a rock-steady, Delta-swamp twang and includes background vocals by the Dixie Hummingbirds; and the reflective, gospel-flavored "In Times Like These," inspired by the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Vocals by the Chicago Music Community Choir add to the poignancy of the lyrics about the importance of community. "God Is Not Sleeping" is warm and soothing.

"Pops' Recipe" is Staples' rocking homage to the beloved Pops Staples and the lectures he gave at dinner or while traveling to gigs. Songs like the title track, "Ain't No Better Than You" and "At the End of the Day" are in the tradition of Staples songs that served as the soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement, while "I Still Believe In You" is a tribute to the friendship (and Friendship) of those who see us through hard times. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" —the first song Pops taught Staples and her siblings—is a moving close to a satisfying album.