Ronnie Earl,
Spread the Love
(Stony Plain, 2010)

Ronnie Earl is among the best and most tasteful guitar players on the scene today. A master of dynamics, he knows when to wail and when to whisper, knows how to keep a basic blues quartet sounding interesting and different from track to track and how to bring rock and jazz elements to his music without abandoning the essential qualities of the blues.

On this collection of 14 instrumental tracks, Earl offers up Albert King's "Backstroke" to show he can shuffle with the best of them, gives us a little jazz, Kenny Burrell's "Chitlins Con Carne," and slips in some beautiful ballads.

The album isn't all guitar heroics, though. Backed by his regular band, the Broadcasters, Earl gives plenty of space for Dave Limina's Hammond B-3 and piano. Limina shows off his B-3 playing on "Patience," while his piano playing on "Spann's Groove" allows him to offer tribute to Muddy Waters' great pianist, Otis Spann.

Throughout a 35-year-long career that has taken him from sideman in a number of bands, most prominently Roomful of Blues, to bandleader, Earle has never stopped growing as an artist. This latest demonstration of that growth, Spread the Love, is a winner.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

30 October 2010

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