When veterans of the music industry get together in the studio you know that something special is going to occur. Growing up with a deep appreciation for the delta blues and rock, Anders Osborne and The North Mississippi All-Stars (Luther and Cody Dickinson) are the perfect fit to work together and create an album. Freedom & Dreams is a powerful statement from the Osborne/ All-Stars collaboration (NMO – North Mississippi Osborne) and brings out a wealth of emotions that listeners can relate to in their lives. With decades of live performances and studio releases under their belts this is the first time that Anders Osborne and The North Mississippi All-Stars have had the opportunity to come together as one on an album.
Opening with “Away for Too Long,” Osborne’s soulful voice rings through brightly, as Luther Dickinson’s recognizable guitar and his Brother Cody’s drums provide a steady juke-joint style swing. “Back Together,” the second track follows with a nice slow groove that is an emotional journey as Osborne sings of a long-lost love that has been rekindled. Guitarist Dickinson adds an absolutely flawless solo that highlights Osborne’s heartfelt lyrics and reminds why Dickinson is quite simply one of the most inventive guitarists around today.
On “Shining (Spacedust)” the inter-play between the three musicians is at the forefront and it is easy to hear how the trio compliments each other so well. With Osborne’s lead vocals on this slowed down tune you can hear the Swedish born singer/songwriter speak from his heart with the lyrics, “You’re shining and you’re beautiful today/ You’re radiant right now in every way.” The Dickinson brothers accentuate Osborne’s heartfelt lyrics with a subtle taste of guitar and shimmering dose of tambourine and brushes on the drums.
The addition of the classic Osborne track “Katrina,” is the definition of the blues. Ten years ago Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans and the surrounding area bringing sorrow to millions. Many musicians at the time, including Osborne and the Dickinson’s, came together to lend a helping hand by playing benefits to help people get back on their feet. With the lyrics “You pushed me and you pulled me/ You tore my heart apart,” the powerful lyrics are near and dear to trio who saw so much of the destruction up close in their New Orleans and Mississippi homes.
Freedom & Dreams shows the wide-range of this multi-talented trio. One of the many highlights is “Many Wise Men,” an acoustically-driven tune that finds the band switching gears to a slower-mellow paced groove that is like floating on a cloud. Multi-instrumentalist Cody Dickinson, on washboard and drums, leads the way, while Osborne and Luther trade sweet, lilting guitar licks back and forth.
The album concludes with the long-time blues and New Orleans staple “Junco Pardna,” which proves the perfect capstone to this collaboration of southern-blues-rockers.