In his longstanding group work with Blue Mountain and in his subsequent solo efforts, Cary Hudson has always reflected his Mississippi upbringing in some form or fashion, whether by musical inference, turn of phrase or rural perspective. On "Mississippi Moon," his latest solo album, Hudson translates the title conceptually and literally; the album was recorded in Hudson's home state, produced by fellow homeboy and former Squirrel Nut Zipper James "Jimbo" Mathus and realized during three full moon cycles last summer.
With all that Magnolia State mojo hanging in the air, it's tempting to imagine that Hudson might work out some of his Delta roots on "Mississippi Moon." Alas, it's not to be. The album starts off with loping folk of Long Lost Friend, which melodically skirts the edges of Dr. Hook's Cover of the Rolling Stone while trotting out every conceivable dead-friend lyrical cliché; it's an interesting track, but doesn't seem strong enough to bat lead off.
Mississippi Country Girl works a similar angle with similar results; at this point, there's more pop Americana shine than Deep South voodoo happening on "Mississippi Moon." Hudson comes close on the Appalachian-haunted Banks of Edisto, the tradition-tinged country blues of Hobo's Lullaby, the gritty swamp reverb of Velvet Elvis and the early electric Dylan hustle of Rockin' Blues and the heartland lope of Broke Down and Busted.
The performances here are all good and loose, befitting the sessions that spawned them, but Hudson might have done well to tighten up the actual songs first. Hudson has some great albums in his catalog, but "Mississippi Moon" is merely good.