Home Read Albums Of The Week: Luther Dickinson | Magic Music For Family Folk

Albums Of The Week: Luther Dickinson | Magic Music For Family Folk

The North Mississippi Allstar reimagines blues and folk classics for kids of all ages.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Magic Music For Family Folk, the new album from Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, features the singer-songwriter’s rendition of favorite songs from his childhood by The Meters, Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson and more. Produced by Dickinson at the family’s Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater, MS, and mixed at Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, the album includes guests Yola, Allison Russell, Lillie Mae, Sharde Thomas, Sharisse Norman, as well as Dickinson’s mother and children.

“This collection of my childhood favorites was recorded for fun, at home, with family and friends, in the spirit of sharing,” says the 10-time Grammy-nominated producer and artist. “As a new father, I needed music that my family and friends could enjoy that’s also suited to my funky taste and organic, acoustic aesthetic. Having daughters altered my listening habits and it was hard to find records that we all liked, so I had to make one. Everyone is welcome.”

The bulk of the material was recorded in 2017 “during dinner parties, sleepovers, and play dates. I wanted to expose my kids to the joy of recording music. So we would invite friends over to the house and record, family style.” After burning rough mix CDs for the family car, Dickinson stowed away the project until earlier this year. “When it comes to art or music, the perspective of time can’t be bought or faked,” he says. “This record definitely benefited from fresh ears, as well as techniques and sounds I had developed over the years doing production and film scores.” Luther’s daughters initially recorded vocals for the album in 2017 and overdubbed them this year. “Having my daughters sing along with their younger selves was a unique sensation and document of their youth,” Dickinson says.

The single Beulah Land features Yola, Russell, Thomas, and Dickinson’s mother and daughters. “Our version of Mississippi John Hurt’s Beulah Land is my favorite,” he says. “Allison had just finished recording when Yola arrived for the evening dinner party. But as soon as she walked in the door, I sat her down, handed her headphones, and hit record. Her spontaneous, first-impression vocal performance, without ever hearing the track, instantly became my favorite moment of recording. These days, if I am going to sing a spiritual song, I gravitate towards a non-specific, inclusive message and Beulah Land speaks to the theme of the album and supports the Magic Music For Family Folk concept I wanted to share with my children.”

Are You Sure, featuring Thomas and Norman, was popularized by The Staple Singers on 1972’s Be Altitude: Respect Yourself. Dickinson translates the track into a breezy acoustic number accented by a soft beat, bluesy guitar lead, and hummable heavenly harmonies. “My father Jim Dickinson learned Old Blue, Turkey In The Straw and Old Hen from his friends and teachers, Memphis musicians Furry Lewis and Gus Cannon. Passing his songs down to a fourth generation felt magical.”

Magic Music For Family Folk closes with Dickinson’s sole original. He says, “I wrote Whatever River for my daughters as a possible portal of companionship — in case they ever miss me in the future. It’s my personal belief and practice that music is a realm in which one can commune with loved ones, transcending time and space. Therein lies the magic Of Music for Family Folk.”

In the end, Dickinson might just bring you and your loved ones close to the speaker… and one another.”


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