Keys to the Kingdom (Deluxe Edition)
North Mississippi Allstars
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Recorded at the Allstars’ Zebra Studios in the wake of Cody and Luther Dickinson’s father’s passing (musical and production legend Jim Dickinson), Keys to the Kingdom is literally dedicated to him and performed in the spirit of all great Southern rock. “This A’Way,” “Jumpercable Blues” and “This Meeting” slide towards a blues that can still express an inner joy even when it’s tired and fed up. “How I Wish My Train Would Come” turns towards country with a Stones-like slash of the guitars. “Hear the Hills” throws the harmonies into its roadside attractions. The cover of Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” is a reworking that emphasizes a swamp-blues guitar that’s halfway to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” “Let It Roll” and “Ol’ Cannonball” capture the spirit of the Mississippi Delta blues. “Jellyrollin’ All Over Heaven” features Luther’s slide-guitar and Cody’s sturdy groove as they pay tribute to their dad. The Deluxe Edition includes three cuts from Cody and Luther, including the dark, down blues of “Done Laid Blame” and the quick and brutal “Ain’t Got No.”
Solid but could have been better
I'm a huge NMA fan. That being said, it seems as if they have been going through a musical identity crisis for quite some time. At least for the last couple of years. They can't seem to decide whether they are a southern roots-rock blues band or a blues influenced southern rock band. I prefer the former. This album leans heavily upon the latter. The clean, pure sounds of the vintage Allstars have been cropped and pared down into segments of overproduced songs. This can't be right. Get rid of the rhythm guitar. Get rid of the clutter of unneccessary noise. Bring back the soul of the Allstars!
The album is a must have. Go see them live Luther is one of the greatest guitar players of all time
A fine tribute to Jim Dickinson, but musically a disappointment...
This latest release from the NMA is regarded as a rather personal expression from Luther and Cody as a tribute to their late father, the legendary Jim Dickinson. I respect and appreciate that for what it is, no question. Just disappointed that the music doesn't center too much around the musicianship in the band, particularly Luther's guitar wizardry. It's more song-oriented, as I guess you could call this a concept album, and the songs are overall way more laid back, more akin to old-time country and gospel than the raunchy, R.L. Burnside-esque blues the boys are known for. A few tunes are more bluesy, but they're rather ordinary and not very exciting...the opening track is pretty good, however. I guess I was expecting that the resulting music of the boys' dealing with Jim's passing would be steeped in blues, but they decided to take a more "heavenly"-oriented approach, hence the more gospel-ish tinges.
Not too bowled over by the bonus tracks, either--just so-so. And the sound quality on the last bonus track is not good at all.
So sure, a touching tribute to the late great Jim D., and I don't want to come off as downplaying that, but I am pretty disappointed with the musical approach of this effort. I guess my disappointment is more pronounced by the fact that the boys won't be coming anywhere near me on this winter's tour...I won't be able to see them tear it up in person, and this album doesn't really serve as a substitute for that...oh well, maybe next time...they're still young, I'm sure there's more good stuff to come, and they released a few great live download albums a couple of years back that I can keep listening to... :-)
And Evildiesel is right...Luther is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, but sadly this album does not exemplify that statement. You DO indeed have to go see the NMA live in order to be convinced of that.
Formed: 1996 in Hernando, MS
Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s
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