From the opening traditional acoustic arrangement of ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’ the classic protest song you know that this is going to be something special. It’s a beautiful vocal free vocal that captures the essence of that powerful song with quiet simplicity. You’re then plunged head first into the cabaret room for the strutting swing blues of ‘Higher Love’ that sound like it hails from a Chicago Club of yesteryear. The impeccably picked Strat on ‘Blues for George Floyd’ is sublime.
If you love your smooth assured Blues then this is for you. Earl and his band are crazy good: with Dave Limina (keys,) Diane Blue (vocals), Paul Kochanski ( bass), and Forrest Padgett (drums) all given time to shine. Ronnie Earl has been around since he first appeared in Boston bars in the 1970s and I’m quite ashamed only to have picked up on him now! This is real Blues with a social consciousness and the record comes as a response to both Coronavirus and racial issues. The star for me of course is the guitar but the soul in Diane Blue’s voice is amazing and a wonderful counterpoint.
Highlights for me have to be the wonderful live version of ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, the soothing ‘Blues for Lucky Peterson’ (man that guitar speaks!) and the slow Blues of ‘Black Lives Matter’. Best of all though just might be the sublime of ‘Lord Protect My Child’ and the traditional feel of closer ‘Navajo Blues’. Brilliant!
8 / 10