New Music Preview: Mavis Staples, Morrissey, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Morrissey Getty Images
Xavi Torrent/Getty Images

Welcome to the Manual’s new monthly album preview column. Below you’ll find the three records releasing in November that we can’t wait to hear!

Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black

“We’re not loving one another the way we should,” notes Mavis Staples in a press release for the forthcoming If All I Was Was Black, written and produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame. She adds, “Some people are saying we need to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.”

Early single “Little Bit,” is a “a cautionary anthem of all the ways in which those regarded as suspicious have to weigh their actions just to survive day to day.” The song’s jaunty bassline contrasts with its chorus: “A little bit too high / a little bit too low / a little bit out of line / and my baby won’t make it home.” But the coda is optimistic: Staples sings, “You feel surrounded / Maybe you’re confused / Maybe you’re confounded / What is there to do? / A little bit from you / A little bit from me / Simple as it gets / We set each other free.” (Available November 17 via ANTI-)

Morrissey – Low in High School

Fall 2017 has been a treat for fans of The Smiths. October saw the release of a highly acclaimed deluxe remaster of the band’s 1986 classic, The Queen is Dead, and Morrissey’s latest solo outing, titled Low in High School, arrives in mid-November.

Two early singles have come out since the album’s August announcement. “Spent the Day in Bed” is a synth-infused pop anthem that doubles as a protest against the evils of television news. The chorus repeats, “Stop watching the news! / Because the news contrives to frighten you / To make you feel small and alone /To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.” (Available November 17 via BMG)

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Soul of a Woman

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ new album, Soul of a Woman, arrives a year — nearly to the day — after the beloved soul singer’s death from pancreatic cancer. Recorded throughout the year before Jones’ death, the record finds her voice at full power.

“Matter of Time,” an early single released in October, is an uplifting gem. The song captures the energy of the band’s on-stage energy, which makes sense given Dap-Kings bassist Bosco Mann’s comment in a press release: “The band was really cresting on stage in months before Sharon passed. As a show band, I don’t think any band out there could have competed with us at that level. We hit the studio hot off the road and you could feel it in there.” (Available November 17 via Daptone Records)

Feature image courtesy of Xavi Torrent/Getty Images.

Writer’s note: In addition to contributing to The Manual, I work at a music promotion company, Distiller Promo, that is currently promoting Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ Soul of a Woman.