North Mississippi Allstar and Anders Osborne – Freedom & Dreams

Freedom & Dreams, a collaboration between Anders Osborne and North Mississippi Allstars, finds New Orleans’ preeminent guitarist and his colleagues from the Magnolia State effortlessly working their way through a series of blues and folk tunes with a sublime confidence that can only come from years of casual jamming. Make no mistake, these guys are more than just partners; they are friends. The album opens with “Away, Way Too Long,” a swampy, laid-back blues number that sets the tone for what’s to come. Like much of Freedom & Dreams, the opening track develops slowly, building up like a cloud of thick South Louisiana fog. Even the peaks are subtle here, with solos—on “Lonely Love,” “Shining (Spacedust)” and “Kings And Peasants”—that are at once soaring and restrained. Then there’s the record’s centerpiece “Brush Up Against You,” a more-or-less instrumental blues undertaking that teeters on the avant-garde. Finally, the whole thing wraps up with a tribute to Osborne’s New Orleans blues roots, a modern reimagining of James Wayne’s “Junco Partner.” It’s a solid effort all around that, more than anything, comes off as a testament to the power of the low-key, carefree jam session.

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