Solstice

Luther Dickinson And Sisters Of The Strawberry Moon

New West Records, 2019

http://www.lutherdickinson.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/17/2019

Luther Dickinson has done plenty of remarkable things in his lengthy and esteemed career, but I first heard him as a teenager when he briefly played guitar on 1987's Pleased To Meet Me by The Replacements. Of course, since then he's done much more high profile work, and a lot of it with his band North Mississippi Allstars who have been making all sorts of great jam, blues, and Southern rock sounds since the mid '90s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With Solstice, Dickinson handles guitar duties and lets a rotating cast of accomplished vocalists and musicians step in to flesh out this listen, which he compares to throwing a party and stepping back to let it all happen organically. Included are both originals and covers, but they all sound new in this collaborative setting.

“Superlove” opens up the album with Birds Of Love on vocals; the music remains soft and supple as the female harmonize, and “Fly With Me” follows with spirited guitars and a soulful delivery from Sharde Thomas.

Though there isn't a contribution here that isn't spectacular, the always glorious Amy LaVere offers some of the best. On “Hallelujah (I'm A Dreamer),” her inimitable, warm and charming vocals illuminate the soft rocker, while later on “The Night Is Still Young” offers a mysterious and chilling moment. LaVere then appears again on “Cricket (At Night I Can Fly),” which is a playful folky-pop highlight.

Dickinson reportedly wanted this album to flow with a spontaneous feeling as each artist felt comfortable enough to just 'be themselves', and it's no doubt he succeeded as Amy Helm's gorgeous pipes on the elegant “Sing To Me,” and the gospel a cappella “Hold To His Hand” with The Como Mamas, clearly illustrates the 'live' feel of the record.

This is a multifaceted listen that brings unexpected surprises with each track. You'll hear banjos, clarinet, keys, or – in the case of the songs with The Como Mamas –  just voices, as blues, funk, R&B, and country ideas that all find their way into the soothing, agile atmospheres. Let's hope that Dickinson plans on doing a follow up to Solstice, because he's really onto something here.

Rating: B+

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