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It’s sheer per­for­mance that lifts this folksy home­com­ing for Oates, his band of Nashville cats hop­ping like jackrab­bits from blues to coun­try to rag, while Oates leads from the front, his voice croak­ing with both pas­sion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism as he weaves to­gether the land and the mu­sic of this cot­ton­pick­ing Mis­sis­sippi state (pre­vi­ously name-checked in song by, among oth­ers, Glen Camp­bell, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Charles Man­son). Mis­sis­sippi John Hurt’s songs get sev­eral look-ins, in­clud­ing Stack O Lee, here given the oddly-jolly orig­i­nal treat­ment rather than the mur­der­ous Nick Cave de­liv­ery, and Spike Driver Blues, played solo to close the col­lec­tion so au­then­ti­cally he must surely have jumped up on a hick­ory stump to per­form it. When he sings an oldie like Miss the Mis­sis­sippi and You, it rings true, like Oakes re­ally does miss see­ing that big ol’ river rolling along. An un­ex­pected plea­sure.

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