North Mississippi Allstars
Keys to the Kingdom
Songs Of The South
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Southern rock band North Mississippi Allstars has returned with a new album, Keys to the Kingdom. Anchored by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, the group serves up a new batch of bluesy jams after a brief hiatus; Luther is also a member of the Black Crowes, and Cody has been busy with side project Hill Country Revue. The two reunited after the death of their father, legendary Memphis musician/producer Jim Dickinson, and recorded together at the family’s Zebra Ranch Studio.
With upbeat tracks like “Jumpercable Blues,” Keys to the Kingdom doesn’t always sound like a mourning album. It’s also a celebration of Jim’s life, and the brothers have invited their friends. Mavis Staples appears on standout track “The Meeting,” and Ry Cooder, Spooner Oldham, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Gordie Johnson also lend their talents to the album. With the help of these elder statesmen, Luther and Cody pay their respects to their father’s tradition. The Allstars get contemplative on tracks like “Ain’t No Grave,” but bring plenty of gritty Mississippi attitude to “New Orleans Walkin’ Dead.” Keys to the Kingdom is both a tribute to and a continuation of the Dickinson musical tradition.