The consistently high quality of Ronnie Earl’s albums is a thing of wonder. He has more guest stars this time out and fans of his extended soloing might be disappointed with only one example but in return you get fifteen songs showing a wide variety of styles, eight originals and a wide-ranging choice of covers. If you’ve been following his career, you’ll be very happy with this one. There are some original blues, several of his famous re-workings of blues standards, and then several more in wider variety of styles. Chester Burnett’s “Baby How Long” gets a full-on Chicago treatment with Kim Wilson on harp & vocals, Anthony Geraci on piano and Peter Ward on 2nd guitar. Wilson returns on vocals & harp for Little Walter’s “Blues with a Feeling”, a lovely version. The Broadcasters’ regular vocalist is Diane Blue and she co-wrote, with Earl, “The Sweetest Man”, an attractive shuffle. “A Soul That’s Been Abused” is a gorgeous slow blues by Ronnie Earl with a vocal by Ms. Blue and featuring Roomful of Blues original member Greg Piccolo on tenor sax, Earl stretches out on this one. It wouldn’t be a Ronnie Earl album without a couple of sterling instrumentals, and we get “T-Bone Stomp” and “Wolf’s Song”, with “Wolf’s Song” being a laid-back version of “Smokestack Lightning”. Wilson plays harmonica on the latter. “Blues for Charlottesville” is a heartfelt Ronnie Earl original instrumental that closes the album. Ms. Blue opens the album with “Brand New Me”, an uptempo slice of Motown with some lovely horn parts over Limina’s B3. Limina doubles on piano on “Drown in My Own Tears” which also features Piccolo on tenor sax trading solos with Earl. The band drops out for a duo performance of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” with David Bromberg (who also wrote the liner notes) on vocals and acoustic guitar and Earl on his Strat. Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together” joins Earl’s “Peace of Mind” among some of the very good songs on Earl’s albums over the years pleading for a better world. In the same vein, Blue and bassist Paul Kochanski brought “Bringing Light (to a Dark Time)” to the session. Through all the styles, Earl’s emotional, intense guitar soars. Check out www.ronnieearl.com for much more.

Loose Blues News - September 2019
September 2019 - Barbara Diab & The Smoked Meat Band