Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters – Mercy Me – LP – 180 gr coloured vinyl
2022 release. Over a 45-year career as one of the world's top blues musicians, Ronnie Earl has transfixed audiences with his distinct sound of emotion-laden blues. On his own and with his band The Broadcasters, Ronnie is a four-time Blues Music Award winner as "Guitar Player of the Year," with 28 albums and multiple chart-topping compositions in his catalogue. Ronnie sets the songs of this album into context with a quote from Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr prominently placed in the album art: "The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph." These 12 songs present triumphant Blues - uplifting and hopeful songs that point to a better tomorrow, including "Soul Searching," "A Prayer for Tomorrow," "The Sun Shines Brightly" and "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher And Higher." Celebrating artists who have contributed to the theme of hope, Mercy Me includes "Blues for Ruthie Foster," "Blues for Duke Robillard" and "Dave's Groove" (co-written with Dave Limina).
A1. Dave’s Groove - 6:51 A2. Soul Searching - 4:35 A3. The Sun Shines Brightly - 8:33
B1. Blues For Duke Robillard - 7:41 B2. Only You Know And I Know - 7:03 B3. A Prayer For Tomorrow - 6:00
1. AllMusic - Thom Jurek - 2022
Mercy Me is guitarist Ronnie Earl's 28th album, and his 14th for Canada's Stony Plain. Earl is a consummate master of tone -- he has never used an effects pedal. Many blues guitarists are fine soloists, but Earl is more than that: he's a true stylist and improviser who has perhaps more in common with jazz musicians though he remains willfully bound to his vocation as a bluesman. He is backed by longtime band the Broadcasters -- Dave Limina (piano and B-3), Diane Blue (vocals), Forrest Padgett (drums), and Paul Kochanski (electric and upright bass). He enlisted guests for a 12-song set, almost evenly divided between covers and originals. They include pianist Anthony Geraci, saxophonists Mark Earley and Mario Perrett, guitarist Peter Ward, and vocalist Tess Ferraiolo. Earl pays a fingerpopping tribute to Muddy Waters in covering his "Blow Wind Blow." Using B-3 and piano as driving engines, he flies across his Stratocaster strings in full treble tone. Blue swings hard on the lyric. (She is one of the finest blues singers in the game.) He offers a surprise in reading John Coltrane's modal classic "Alabama" with assistance from his sax players. The arrangement is inventive, different, but equally profound. Earl reaches for each note solemnly; his arrangement directly equates the saxophonist's memorial for 1963's 16th Street Baptist Church bombing with the ongoing struggle against virulent, often violent racism. He picks up an acoustic to duet with Ward on "Blues for Ruthie Foster," playing lines that reflect the Delta influence of Robert Johnson and Robert Jr. Lockwood. He reprises the title cut from 1988's "Soul Searching" with horns added to his sparse, tasty, soloing atop Limina's gorgeous B-3. Earl and company deliver a fine version of Dave Mason's "Only You Know and I Know" in tribute to the inimitable Bonnie Bramlett. Blue's throaty contralto is perfectly suited to this R&B gem. "A Prayer for Tomorrow" is a soulful blues that simmers and flows with inventive soloing from Earl and Geraci. The guitarist's nearly 11-minute reading of Percy Mayfield's soul-blues classic "Please Send Me Someone to Love" is a set highlight. He offers the first verse and chorus instrumentally before Blue enters passionately, understating the lyric. "Coal Train Blues" is a straightforward rocking blues with wonderful exchanges between Earl, the piano, and B-3. "The Sun Shines Brightly," co-written by Blue, is a deep, sultry, Delta-inspired gospel blues. She wails and moans atop and around droning, sharp-edged guitar lines as piano and B-3 simmer underneath. The closing cover of Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" offers a gorgeous lead vocal from Ferraiolo, leaving listeners with a joyful expression of romantic and spiritual love. As a guitarist, Earl's technical facility is well documented. That said, his taste, generosity, and vision as a bandleader and interpreter of classic material is equal to his masterful playing. Mercy Me is both perfectly balanced and intensely honest; it underscores and expands on his stature as one of the world's greatest living bluesmen.