North Mississippi Allstars – Set Sail (2022) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

North Mississippi Allstars – Set Sail (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 44:22 minutes | 867 MB | Genre: Blues Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © New West Records

Luther and Cody Dickinson started the North Mississippi Allstars in 1996 as a loose collective of like-minded second-generation musicians who shared a local repertoire and regional style. Over the years the lineup shifted by design, and each NMA record offered up a different combination of collaborators. Set Sail finds the brothers working with Jesse Williams on bass and Lamar Williams, Jr. for the first time. Set Sail, the North Mississippi Allstars’ thirteenth album, follows 2019″s Up and Rolling, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2021. Set Sail continues the band’s tradition of creating roots music that displays remarkable variety. With their latest record, NMA are able to build upon their self-described sound of Primitive Modernism. A melding of the new and the old, traditional and futuristic, crafted lyrics and improvisational music.

As the well-versed sons of the late, great musician/producer Jim Dickinson, guitarist Luther and drummer Cody Dickinson have become guardians of hill country blues and American roots music. Their particular genius is in continually finding new ways to explore these traditions. Their 2013 set World Boogie is Coming, titled after one of their father’s more famous expressions (and he had more than a few!), was built around field recordings of north Mississippi legends Othar Turner and R.L. Burnside; in 2019 they released Up and Rolling, inspired by photos of area musicians from a lost roll of film taken by Wyatt McSpadden. For Set Sail the brothers, along with bassist Jesse Williams, have befriended another second-generation musician, singer Lamar Williams Jr.—son of the Allman Brothers bassist (no relation to Jesse). According to Luther Dickinson, being sons of famous musicians was their bonding connection: “I believe music is a form of communion with our loved ones and conjuring this vibe with members of musical families can be inspirational… We never had to figure out what it means and takes to be a musician.”

The primeval voodoo rhythms that are in the brother’s DNA drive “Rabbit Foot” where Williams sings, “Don’t spell my name on a stone/ Give me an unmarked grave and a box of bones/ When my spirits free to roam.” “See the Moon,” an upbeat, ’70s-inspired funk groove is a welcome new flavor with Sharisse Norman joining Williams on vocals. The history-conscious brothers bring in 82-year-old Stax veteran William Bell to convincingly sing “Never Want to Be Kissed,” his ode to a final kiss with a dying lost love. In general though, this is not one of the brothers’ more distinguished collections of originals. While the playing is tight, Williams is an uninspiring amateur, more of a talker than a singer with little range, and often lacking any emotion. “Juicy Juice” whose title screams funk, is set to an elastic ’70s rhythm but is oddly low key and also handicapped by silly lyrics about a “classy city stoner chick” whose “juice is the truth.” Williams flatlines in the slow “Bumpin’,” sounding as if he’s reading from a page. Few of the tunes are memorable, particularly closer “Authentic,” a righteous plea for sanity and respect; with lyrics about “guns in the streets” it’s is an overly simplistic message song with Williams’ sing-talking over a weak musical foundation: “On the American tree of music roots/ Each branch bears a different fruit/ Music runs in the blood of our family in/ Music and love is what I believe.” This rare misstep from Cody and Luther is missing their usual confidence and ferocity, perhaps the evidence that urban-leaning funk is one subgenre the talented duo just does not feel. – Robert Baird

Tracklist:
01. North Mississippi Allstars – Set Sail, Part I (04:57)
02. North Mississippi Allstars – Bumpin’ (02:52)
03. North Mississippi Allstars – See the Moon (03:21)
04. North Mississippi Allstars – Outside (04:58)
05. North Mississippi Allstars – Didn’t We Have a Time (06:04)
06. North Mississippi Allstars – Never Want to Be Kissed (feat. William Bell) (03:42)
07. North Mississippi Allstars – Set Sail, Part II (04:33)
08. North Mississippi Allstars – Juicy Juice (03:32)
09. North Mississippi Allstars – Rabbit Foot (04:04)
10. North Mississippi Allstars – Authentic (06:15)

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