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Luther Dickinson (from the album Magic Music ffor Family Folk on New West/Antone’s Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
As the old showbiz axiom suggests, Luther Dickinson certainly needs no introduction.
A 10-time Grammy Award-nominated producer and solo artist, not to mention the co-founder of the North Mississippi Allstars along with his brother Cody, he clearly inherited his talent for making music from his late father Jim Dickinson, a legendary producer and session player with a resume as formidable as any in contemporary musical realms.
Consequently, when one has reached a certain stage in their career, with a wealth of accomplishments to their credit, there’s no need to hesitate when it comes to making music that shares a particular personal connection. Consequently, Magic Music for Family Folk takes a decidedly personal approach, a revisit to songs from his childhood that mostly draw from a traditional template. They’re interspersed with tunes originally written and/or recorded by The Meters, The Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, and various others. And while the material is definitely on the quieter side, any number of special guests — Yola, Allison Russell, Lillie Mae, Sharde Thomas, Sharisse Norman, his brother Cody, and, appropriately, his mother and children — affect an enthusiasm that’s asserted throughout.
Certain selections express that exuberance without hesitation — “Are You Sure” and “They All Ask for You” in particular — but others maintain Dickinson’s fondness for the rural Roots music that’s naturally such an inherent part of his pedigree. “Old Blue”, “Old Hen”, “Chicken”, “Pay Day”, and “Beulah Land” are tinged with a certain Gospel-like reverence, stirred from primal Blues but revisited here in a slightly more celebratory fashion. More to the point, the rousing repast of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom Boom” also finds a fit, however unlikely it might otherwise seem in these communal confines.
It’s all in keeping with an organic approach, one that draws from simple, unadorned arrangements that befit their homegrown, family-friendly origins. Like his earlier outings, 2019’s Solstice and 2016’s Blues & Ballads, Magic Music for Family Folk eschews any hint of pomp or pretense, and instead, substitutes an easygoing ambiance that might easily find a fit at a gathering where the young folks are naturally the center of attention.
In that regard, the new album could be considered a family heirloom of sorts, one meant to be passed down through the generations and shared whenever the opportunity arises. The one original, “Whatever River” holds to that premise, given that it was meant as a bond of sorts that could keep the connection intact even in one’s absence.
Some might get the mistaken impression that Magic Music for Family Folk is simply a children’s album, and in a certain sense it is. Yet, it also musters enough musicality to entice an older audience as well. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Luther Dickinson from AMAZON
For more information, please visit Luther Dickinson website
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