North Mississippi Allstars return with Polaris, their most ambitious album yet. They added Duwayne Burnside on guitar and vocals, and brought an even more eclectic group of songs to the table. Starting with the soulful rocker "Eyes," they slide right into a fabulous version of Junior Kimbrough's "Meet Me in the City." "Conan" starts with nice fingerpicked acoustic guitars before moving into and out of a country boogie before the guitar solo. Luther Dickinson's meaty slide is featured on all over the place, often recalling Duane Allman. Pegged as roots rockers and loosely identified with the jam-band scene, North Mississippi Allstars might surprise some people with tunes like "Otay" and "Time for the Sun to Rise," which are extremely well-produced pure pop tunes. The Dickinson brothers have done a great job with production all the way around: crisp and clean without sounding glossy, and a rich, warm tone throughout. The band seems equally at ease doing greasy country blues or bright shiny pop, making it all seem effortless (or like on "Be So Glad" where 95-year-old Othar Turner's fife mixes with drum machines and Cody Burnside's rapping, bridging three generations and at least two styles of music). Things end with a hidden track called "Goin Home," an up-tempo instrumental that recalls the best elements of the Allman Brothers Band. With Polaris, North Mississippi Allstars have turned in their best set yet, showing that they're at the vanguard of a new Southern rock.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard