North Mississippi Allstars release their thirteenth album `Set Sail` this month. The band started  as a loose collective by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson and on this album they drew on the talents of Jesse Williams on bass and Lamar Williams Jr. on vocals along with a plethora of talented singers and musicians.

The album opens with `Set Sail part I` and it`s a quite mesmeric number that seems to stroll along with a rhythmic drum beat, keys, and Lamar Williams Jr`s rich vocals sharing what sounds like a tribute or recognition of their forefathers and mothers struggle for civil rights and how this generation are prepared to resume that fight if necessary. There are some delightful guitar riffs, bass tinges, strings and even horns towards the end of this engrossing journey. We have more of a late night bluesy feel to `Bumpin’` which again seems to meander along with dreamy vocals. The song is simple in structure but so effective, a tale of as Dan Reed says “Doin` the love thing”. 

`See The Moon` is a track where singers Lamar Williams Jr. and Sharisse Norman really draw the best out of each other. A quite captivating, playful, and uplifting number about being in love and wanting the whole world to know and share in that joyous feeling. I read somewhere that `Outside`  was inspired by conversations the songwriter had with Hill Country Blues legend Otha Turner and Blues singer R.L. Burnside. A hypnotic pulsing drumbeat is at the heart of this heart-breaking tale of finding out who really fathered you almost too late.

`Didn’t We Have A Time` is a quite reflective musing on a friendship that almost transcends life and what`s beyond. I thought the vocals shared were so rich and deep and really conveyed the respectful sentiment the lyrics required for this eulogy. Luther’s daughters Lucia and Isla sing together briefly during the number which becomes a kind of dreamlike jam in the last couple of minutes with some nigh on African drumming right at the end. Strings and a horn section lead us into `Never Want To Be Kissed` on which American soul singer and songwriter William Bell adds his warm and sultry tones. It`s a glorious soulful bluesy story of the end of a romance and Phyllislorena Smiley`s background vocals really added something special that balanced out Williams.

`Set Sail part II` is almost a continuation of the previous Set Sail offering. It has a similar vibe musically and lyrically where the co-vocalists really trade off each other. Maybe the drums, strings, brass, and guitar inflections are a little more evident on this sequel and the vocals a little less pronounced. The lyrics may be a little vapid on `Juicy Juice` but the music is funky, bluesy, and quite spellbinding. As I’d never heard of the `Juicy Juice` brand of fruit juices being based in the UK, I read that it has brought out the smiles in families and this number will certainly bring out the smiles here as well.

`Rabbit Foot` is a bewitching, enchanting story with a bit of juju about it. It seems to relate to someone wanting to be buried in an unmarked grave with certain amulets believed to bring good luck, if not in this life maybe the next. It has that spiritual, mystical, magical almost supernatural texture in the accompanying music. The album closes with `Authentic` which has some wistful but powerful lyrics shared over instrumentation that ebbs and flows as it evolves and develops. A sincerely shared request for us all to be more tolerant and a desire to reduce gun crime.   

On `Set Sail` Luther and Cody Dickinson reached out to some talented singers and musicians who heeded their call in the form of Jesse Williams, Lamar Williams Jr, Sharisse Norman, William Bell, John Medeski, Wizard Jones Phyllislorena Smiley  Lucia and Isla Belle Dickinson, Art Edmaiston, Jim Spake, Marc Franklin, Jessie Munson, Wenyih Yu, Yennifer Correia, Jennifer Puckett and Mark Wallace and added their varied flair and expertise to bring this album to life. This release is an infectious and compelling listen and having seen some of the videos of the songs shared, i`m sure it was as much fun to make as it is to listen to. Do yourself a favour and add the opus to your collection.

Rating 9/10

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