Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
Stony Plain Records
Ronnie Earl believes in the power of music to heal the mind and spirit, and continues to derive inspiration from personal experiences and observations. This is his twenty-seventh recording. We are the benefactors of his “flow”. Earl is the most soulful blues/jazz guitarist working today. He is a four-time Blues Music Award winning “Guitarist of the Year”. His band, The Broadcasters include Diane Blue, vocals; Dave Limina, Hammond B-3 and piano; Paul Kochanski, bass; Forrest Padgett, drums; and Peter Ward, second guitar. The album is produced by Earl for Higher Power Productions, and mostly recorded during sessions in his home studio while recovering from back surgery. Several live tracks are also included.
Ward states “People tasked with having to describe Ronnie invariably note his passion…wielding a Stratocaster and Super Reverb he has transfixed audiences with his distinct brand of emotion-laden blues…each time he performs he gives audiences his all and shoots for the moon…Why give so much of oneself? In part, because it’s a gift to be shared. Blues musicians are…generally happy to be what they are…what they do pleases their listeners and satisfies a deep-down need in themselves. But with Ronnie it’s more…he’s keenly attuned to the pain people suffer, especially depression and human indignity, and in 2020, he felt the need to respond urgently to coronavirus and racial strife”.
Earl opens with “I Shall Not Be Moved” a traditional song based on biblical scripture that has become a staple of the civil rights movement. It is performed instrumentally as a melancholy intro with Earl playing an acoustic. “Higher Love” is an original written by Earl reprised from his 2015 album “Father’s Day” where it was sung as a duet between vocalist Blue and Mike Ledbetter; here it is given a jazzier interpretation, recorded live, it is wonderfully sung by Blue with note-worthy soloing from Earl and organist Limina. The narrative “Black Lives Matter” is co-written by Blue with Limina switching to piano; while the instrumental “Navajo Blues” is co-written with Ward and dedicated to the Navajo tribe. Earl’s other instrumental originals, the emotional “Blues for George Floyd”, the ten-minute “Blues for Lucky Peterson”; “Albert’s Stomp” inspired by the 1972 Albert King instrumental; and “Talking to Mr. Bromberg” follow.
On another live track Blue introduces and sings “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, a favorite of Earl’s written by Fenton Robinson, and reprised from Earl’s 2017 album “Luckiest Man”; Earl’s solo is magnificent. Also included is Eddie Taylor’s “Big Town Playboy” wonderfully sung by Blue, with a fabulous performance from the band featuring Ward on rhythm guitar. Also covered are “In The Dark” a.k.a. “Romance In the Dark” written and first recorded by Lillian (Lil’) Green in 1940; Magic Sam’s “All Your Love” from 1969; Bob Dylan’s “Lord Protect My Child” first recorded in 1983, and wonderfully sung by Blue; “Mess Around” credited to Nugetre, a songwriter alias for Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun (his last name spelled backwards); and a live version of the 1965 Jimmy Smith instrumental “Blues for J” first recorded by Earl on his 2004 album “Now My Soul”. These are truly inspired versions.
Each of Earl’s five albums since 2015 seem a sequel to the previous one, but also stand alone as testaments to his status as the most soulful blues/jazz guitarist of our generation. However, the passionate Earl is at his very, very best on this inspired new release.