Every Ronnie Earl release is met with near-religious fervour – and this is his 28th. The twelve tracks on the aptly-named Mercy Me begin with a robust, full-band workout on Muddy Waters’ “Blow Wind Blow”. Dave Limina’s rich wall of B3 is nicely ghosted by guest Anthony Geraci on piano while Diane Blue adds vocal support. Once referred to as ‘the Coltrane of the Guitar’, Earl and his band slip into John Coltrane’s “Alabama” like a pair of well-worn slippers, leaning on Paul Kochanski’s earthy bass and the exploratory horns of Mark Earley (baritone sax) and Mario Perrett (tenor). As always, Limina’s sultry B3 offers Earl a sea of possibilities to stretch his genius across multiple platforms. “Blues for Ruthie Foster” is a slow, slippery original as acoustic bass and acoustic guitar pay tribute to the Texas-based singer-songwriter, while Peter Ward sits in on second guitar. The original, “Soul Searching”, demonstrates what Earl does so well – rebuilding it from its earlier form with horns, as Limina double-wraps the piece with his ever-jubilant B3. One of the album’s true highlights is Earl’s “Blues for Duke Robillard” – a true showcase for the delicate Earl/Limina interplay which can summon goosebumps at will as they set a course for true musical exploration. Dave Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know” gets a lovely remodelling with singer Diane Blue and a nod to Delaney & Bonnie’s take from 1970. Limina drives as Perrett & Earley trade off on sax, eventually coaxing Earl into the foreground. Geraci’s co-write with Earl, “A Prayer for Tomorrow”, returns Ward to Earl’s side as the gifted, guest pianist adds substantially with a tone of his own, buttressed by the ever-luminous Limina. “Dave’s Groove” is 6:51 of pure bliss with stand-out bass from Kochanski, great sax from Earley & Perrett and more notes than usual from the less-is-more Earl. Earl’s take on Percy Mayfield’s time-honoured “(Please Send Me) Someone to Love” is yet another delightful example of how Earl’s guitar sparks to Limina’s supportive accompaniment. Add in Kochanski’s sturdy bass, the rock-steady beat of Forrest Padgett, dual sax and Blue’s clear, soulful vocal while Earl adds even more lustre at the 6-minute mark. Another original, “Coal Train Blues”, is a simple blues shuffle which brings Limina and Geraci out to play before pausing to slow things down and, joined by Ward, Earl proves himself Chief Engineer. The 8-minute Earl-Blue co-write, “The Sun Shines Brightly”, meanders between the contributions of Earl and Ward – as notes dance like sunlight on the water, doing exactly what it sets out to do by offering the power of healing through the blues. Limina’s B3, too, shines brightly. Guest vocalist Tess Ferraiolo works with both horns to leave on a high note with Jackie Wilson’s “ (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.”  Ever the minimalist, Earl leaves you wanting more. Yet this set provides a therapeutic call-to-action: a direct appeal to bring more mercy and caring to a troubled world.