Album Reviews

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters

Father's Day

Artist:     Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters

Album:     Father's Day

Label:     Stony Plain

Release Date:     07/17/2015


Signing on with Roomful Of Blues in 1979, guitarist Ronnie Earl went on to slip a fine steely edge between the jump and the swing of America’s premier big band blues revivalists for nine years. Since then, through some 25 albums with his Broadcasters, he’s been honing that edge to exquisite perfection.

Ronnie Earl can play the guitar like heaven and hell, his proficiency continually advancing. As a whole, the Broadcasters cast out equal measures of straight Chicago blues and multicultural jazz drenched in soul. Instrumentals make up a good part of their huge repertoire, but for this very special Father’s Day, Michael Ledbetter or Diane Blue sing all but one of the songs with startling passion. Alongside Earl, keys player Dave Limina, bassist Jim Mouradian, and drummer Lorne Entress, a brass section and guest guitarists fill out the already full sound in all the right places.

The focus on the blues begets amazing blues. Earl wrote the title song with Ledbetter, and it spotlights both players—spare, sublime and brutally strong. Be it Otis Rush’s grinding “It Takes Time” or Magic Sam’s intensely wrenching “All Your Love,” Ledbetter owns, free and clear, every song he sings. Blue takes Magic Sam’s “What Have I Done Wrong” on a funky, blistering ride, and closes the album with sweet gospel on Thomas A. Dorsey’s classic “Precious Lord.” Besides playing guitar like nobody’s business, Earl is obviously on a mission to expose not only his heroes, but his contemporaries, in the best possible light. Powerful emotion and gentle soul pervade this album, which absolutely must win an award or three.

—Tom Clarke

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