Pops Staples: Don't Lose This

Final songs by an R&B patriarch, produced by Jeff Tweedy

Credit: Dave Peabody/Getty

This deep set by the great R&B-gospel mediator Roebuck "Pops" Staples is a rare example of a posthumous reclamation that feels stronger than the original might've been. Working with unfinished 1999 tracks (originally intended for a lost Staple Singers album), producer Jeff Tweedy isolated voices and Pops' quicksilver guitar — like his singing here, an object lesson in tender power — using minimal additions. The result is bracing, timeless gospel blues, sung with his daughters (the soldier's eulogy "The Lady's Letter") and solo (a chilling read of Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault but Mine"). Along with the new reissue of 1965's Freedom Highway, it's a worthy tribute to a gentle giant of American music.