North Mississippi Allstars
Songs of the South
By James Calemine
Hernando is the town in Mississippi where legendary producer Jim Dickinson raised his sons Luther and Cody. Jim Dickinson produced this album at his Zebra Ranch Studio in Coldwater, Mississippi. Hernando marks the fifth studio release from the North Mississippi Allstars.
These 11 songs define a heavy blues-rock foundation and a deep groove, but avert from indulgent jams. With each listen one begins to hear a complex blend of styles. As usual, the Allstars allow local auxiliary talents, such as Jimbo Mathus, to participate in the recording process. The Allstars take no prisoners on Hernando…
The gritty opener, “Shake”, sounds like some Friday midnight soundtrack at Junior Kimbrough’s old juke joint…this one seems to dare trouble. “Keep The Devil Down” proves the Allstars rank as a great American trio. This song deals with addictions, jail, temptations and the dark prince hounding one’s trail. Luther’s guitar prowess continues to expand and amaze. One can hear threads of Band of Gypsies, The Dixie Flyers and Mudboy & The Nuetrons influences in this song’s mix.
“Soldier” emerges as a dark, dirty riff that eliminates any wasted notes or soft-hearted nonsense when Luther sings about “a soldier on the cross”. Cody Dickinson plays his electric washboard on “Eaglebird”. The Allstars cover Champion Jack Dupree’s “I’d Love To Be A Hippy” in a very lowdown, un-hippy musical fashion. Luther even injects a few jazzy chord progressions indicating his wide musical scope on that track.
Cody Dickinson wrote the upbeat “Mizzip” which is sure to send the young ladies dancing at live shows. On “Blow Out” Amy Lavere plays upright bass, East Memphis Slim handles piano, while Jimmy Davis and Jimbo Mathus sing, leaving Luther to only cover his incandescent guitar parts that would make Keith Richards grin.
“Rooster’s Blues” evokes on the point rock and roll, yet it’s mean and funky enough to fit on any early Funkadelic album…strands of all sorts of influence flash in just a few chords. It’s their upbringing…the DNA…
A slow, dark “Long Way Home” closes out the CD. The Allstars take the listener on a musical journey where all roads lead back to Hernando...