RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS
STONY PLAIN CD SPCD 1385
IT TAKES TIME–HIGHER LOVE–RIGHT PLACE, WRONG TIME–WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG–GIVING UP–EVERY NIGHT ABOUT THIS TIME–FATHER’S DAY–I NEED YOU SO BAD–I’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU–FOLLOW YOUR HEART–MOANIN’–ALL YOUR LOVE–PRECIOUS LORD
One of the things we love about a new album from Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters is his penchant for making each one just a little different. This time, for “Father’s Day,” he enlists the aid of two fantastic vocalists—Diane Blue, with whom he has worked previously, and Chicagoan Michael Ledbetter, a linear descendant of the immortal Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter. Also, this time Ronnie adds a sax section, courtesy of Mario Perrett and Scott Shetler.
Ronnie’s passion for the “kings of the West Side” is given the royal treatment on this set with the vocalists, the horns, and Ronnie’s stinging fretwork. Michael takes lead vocal on Otis Rush’s “It Takes Time,” the slow-burn of “Right Place, Wrong Time,” and Magic Sam Maghett’s “All Your Love.” Diane turns in a fine read on the other Magic Sam cut, a lively “What Have I Done Wrong,” with excellent keys from Dave Limina.
Ronnie’s originals are very heartfelt and straight from his soul on this one, too. Diane and Michael duet on a jazzy search for the serendipity of a “Higher Love,” and they team up again on a positive message for us all, to “Follow Your Heart,” and “do what’s good for you.”
We had two favorites, too. The title cut is co-written by Michael and Ronnie, and is a sparsely-arranged slow-blues, with a definite Muddy Waters, deep-Delta feel. It deals with healing old wounds, coming to grips with mortality, and making peace, as Ronnie did with his father just “last Father’s Day.” And, Diane closes the set with a powerful hymn, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” Ronnie’s single-note lead lines sound eerily as if he is channeling an inner B. B. King, and Dave’s Sunday-morning organ adds the perfect touch for Diane’s vocals.
Ronnie Earl dedicated this set to his father, and his playing is as passionate and pure as we’ve ever heard from him. The vocalists and other musicians involved make “Father’s Day” one of Ronnie’s most powerful sets thus far. Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.