Mavis Staples‘ Livin’ On A High Note will be released on February 19th and will feature songs written for her by Nick Cave, Neko Case, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Tune-Yards, Benjamin Booker, Aloe Blacc and others.
The follow-up to last year’s Your Good Fortune EP, Livin’ on a High is produced by M. Ward, who also contributed songs to the set. As Pitchfork reports, Staples shared the first single from the album, “High Note,” which was written by Valerie June, as well as the 12-song track list.
Staples said in a statement that the material will be more uplifting in tone than her earlier work. “I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new. I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs,” she explained. “I want to leave something to lift people up; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up.”
She added that her collaborators provided a challenge for her and also gave insight into the album’s title. “They gave me that feeling of ‘Hey I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new,” she said. “Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”
In May, Staples shared thoughts on six songs that helped shape her musical DNA in Rolling Stone‘s “The Music That Made Me” feature, including tracks by Sam Cooke and the Band.
Livin’ On a High Note Track List
1. “Take Us Back” (Benjamin Booker)
2. “Love and Trust” (Ben Harper)
3. “If It’s a Light” (The Head & the Heart)
4. “Action” (Tune-Yards)
5. “High Note” (Valerie June)
6. “Don’t Cry” (M. Ward)
7. “Tomorrow (Aloe Blacc/John Batiste)
8. “Dedicated” (Justin Vernon/M. Ward)
9. “History Now” (Neko Case)
10. “One Love” (Son Little)
11. “Jesus Lay Down Beside Me” (Nick Cave)
12. “MLK Song” (M. Ward/Martin Luther King)