James Luther Dickinson / Jim Dickinson

Free Beer Tomorrow

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Free Beer Tomorrow is Jim Dickinson's first solo release in 30 years, a period during which he contributed his talents to various hallmark rock moments, whether playing on Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind, winning the Producer of the Year Grammy seven times, or fathering two sons that would form the North Mississippi Allstars. So it's obvious that Dickinson isn't guilty of sitting on his hands artistically since the release of 1972's Dixie Fried. And all things considered, one could be excused for not knowing exactly what to expect from Free Beer Tomorrow; Dickinson delivers an entirely appropriate return, steeped in the mixing pot of blues, soul, and country that he's been playing his entire life. With his weathered warble, a fitting complement to his alternately punchy and swampy arrangements, Dickinson proves himself to still have a fine grasp of the dynamics essential to those foundational forms. Just as comfortable with the country-soul balladry of the classy "It's Rainin'" as he is with the spiteful swipe at a former lover in the darkly swinging "Asshole," the album reveals an impressive study in contrasts that serves as a testament to his prodigious talents. Similarly, the loose junkyard funk of "Well of Love" is one of several tracks where Dickinson sounds a little reminiscent of Tom Waits, although he just as often evokes the understated poignancy of Merle Haggard on Blaze Foley's "If I Could Only Fly" he covers) in his phrasing and delivery. All in all, it's an impressive return to form for someone so long removed from the solo spotlight and an undeniable confirmation of his status as one of the true venerable statesmen of the genre.

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