Review - Polaris

Artist: North Mississippi Allstars

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The North Mississippi Allstars veer from their roots with their third release, a surprising direction given that guitarist Duwayne Burnside (son of R.L.) has joined the group. Even though it's somewhat pop oriented, an almost ever-present slide guitar reminds you that the blues aren't far away. That sometimes ethereal, sometimes edgy sound fits, even on the pop tunes such as the title track. But the meat of these 12 cuts has a more visceral origin, including the rap-inflected "Be So Glad." Versatility is ubiquitous as they swing from blues to pop, and then expose their early punk roots with the Replacements-esque "Kids These Daze." Burnside and Luther Dickinson bring the guitar front and center on "Never in All My Days" and "Bad Bad Pain." Even though it's only a hint, that dual-guitar attack still conjures vintage Duane Allman/Dicky Betts. The promise of that musical repartee may be the real treasure from this disc.

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