Half Notes: North Mississippi Allstars – Hernando (2008)

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This marked the North Mississippi Allstars’ first offering in three years and the first since mentor R.L. Burnside passed away in 2005.

The NMA’s station in life has been to provide a heavily-amped version of Junior Kimbrough, and you have to wonder if success will cause them to stray from their straightforward but heavy-hitting mission. The name Hernando, their hometown situated about ten miles due south of Memphis, suggests that they won’t. The opening “Shake” seemed to confirm that they are staying on course, too.

However, things quickly got a little more varied; the following two tracks (“Keep The Devil Down” and “Soldier”) employed more of an early Black Sabbath vibe while conjuring up themes of heaven and hell. Champion Jack Dupree’s “I’d Love to Be A Hippy” got a delightful straight-blues reworking and feature a rare lead vocal by bassist Chris Chew. There’s other change-ups: “Mizzup” is a lively jitterbugger while “Blow Up” is straight up rockabilly. James Mathus lends his vocals for “Come Go With Me” before the album closes out with three tracks that return to the boys’ traditional heavy blues-rock strengths.

Through it all, it still sounded like the old NMA — like a band stretching out, but just a bit. It ain’t nothing they can’t handle: Hernando ends up as more validation that Southern rock remains alive and well.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at [email protected] .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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