North Mississippi Allstars In Championship Form

If you think of the North Mississippi Allstars as just a blues power trio, or as folks fishing the same pond as, at some times, Southern Culture on the Skids and, occasionally, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, you will in no way be prepared for their magnificent new Keys To The Kingdom. The Dickinsons pay homage to their late dad Jim, whose piano lightened the Stones’ “Wild Horses,” and whose production of Big Star introduced a uniquely off-kilter sound to the world (Wilco said thank you with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), and they do so in a manner wholly fitting the old man’s legacy.  This is not contemporary blues rock — you wouldn’t expect to hear this on Alligator Records — more like a time capsule recording a tryst between Exile on Main Street and Ry Cooder’s Into The Purple Valley. This may be an unfair comparison, but for those who’ve listened to each of the 60 albums released by the Drive By Truckers — another band of offspring from famed Muscle Shoals musicians — and wondered if they’d ever do something that sounds, you know, different, well, Keys To The Kingdom is an affirmation of growth, and a minor rebuke to the NoMi AllStars’ closest competition.  The year is young, and we’ve barely thrown a worm out there, and already we’ve landed a keeper.

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