North Mississippi Allstars

Polaris (Tone-Cool)

ACL Fest Record Reviews

North Mississippi Allstars

Polaris (Tone-Cool) The North Mississippi Allstars' debut, Shake Hands With Shorty, and sophomore effort, 51 Phantom, deserved the critic's choice status both garnered. Their loping Mississippi Hill Country blues is tough to resist in the hands of pedigreed musicians Luther and Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew. With the addition of Duwayne Burnside on guitar, the band's third lap in the studio ought to be right on course; instead Polaris is an uneven though ultimately satisfying finish to their triple crown. They sparkle on "Meet Me in the City," "Never in All My Days," and "All Along," and shine on "Bad Bad Pain," urban blues at its best. Yet while "Conan" starts strong, it flattens into jam-band land before returning to form. The touted but sappy "One to Grow On" features Oasis' Noel Gallagher buried in the mix, and the frightening specter of California rock is evident in "Time for the Sun to Rise." This may not be the best direction for the Allstars, but it allows the Dickinson brothers to explore, much as their father Jim did in both performance (Delaney & Bonnie, Aretha Franklin) and production (Big Star, Replacements). What makes Polaris work in the end is the potential, the promise that says NMAS are Southern rock for the modern age, right down to the pristinely Allman-flavored "Be So Glad." In another 10 years, the Dickinsons will be unstoppable. Just get those ya-yas out, boys; the blues can't wait that long. (Saturday, 6pm, Heineken stage)

**.5

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