North Mississippi Allstars
Up And Rolling
New West Records
The new album from Luther and Cody Dickinson’s North Mississippi Allstars was inspired by photos on a forgotten roll of film from the ‘90s. It got the brothers and their fellow musicians back into the studio, along with guests Mavis Staples, Jason Isbell, Cedric Burnside and Duane Betts. The result is a beautifully recorded collection of songs that evoke warm Southern summer nights – the good times and the troubled times, soundtracked by sweet harmonies, deep blues grooves and some exquisite guitar playing.
They’re a band rooted in tradition but they’ve described this album as ‘modern Mississippi’ and it really is just that. Songs spark and kick with an earthy funk but it feels totally contemporary. There are the some sweet soul vocal performances on songs such as ‘Living Free’, ‘Up and Rolling’ and ‘Peaches’ (featuring Staples), more organic blues tracks such as ‘Take My Hand’, dark and psychedelic excursions (‘Lonesome in My Home’), and fun tracks such as ‘Drunk Outdoors’.
Moments where they take unexpected turns really stand out on Up And Rolling. The opener ‘Call That Gone’ incorporates flute and gritty slide guitar to great effect, while the six and half minute centrepiece, ‘Mean Old World’ (featuring Isbell and Betts) is solid blues rock for its first half before taking flight on an exceptional Allman Brothers/Grateful Dead chooglin’ guitar trip.
North Mississippi Allstars have once again found that balance between serious subject matter, exceptional playing and downright musical fun making this the blues album of 2019.