With new album Spread the Love, Ronnie Earl pays homage to, well, anyone that strikes him – influences, family members, whoever. Working as an instrumental quartet, Earl and the Broadcasters create an album that spreads as much as you’d hope. Earl sounds his best in a Texas-style reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but here he’s pulling in sounds from Chicago, from jazz, from soul, and more. Much of the success of the album relies on Earl’s expressiveness, in any mood or style. The point, guitar fans sometimes forget, isn’t always to make the instrument sound like a voice; Earl doesn’t do that, but he captures moods and textures expertly. “Happy” provides the best example of this skill, where Earl maintains just that mood, moving not towards “ecstatic” or “gleeful” or anything else. He uses his talent for the slow burn to stay happy at a steady pace, only briefly breaking out with some alternate picking that serves as punctuation for, rather than the message of, the sentence.
Of course, if the album were simply an Earl highlight reel, it would be less interesting. The Broadcasters are tight, and Dave Limina deserves attention for his piano and Hammond work. When he’s on the latter, it’s not hard to imagine him on an old Stax record. On either instrument, he both develops a groove and knows how to interact with Earl, whether fitting their parts together or building on each other’s solos. Spread the Love delivers both musical expertise and an irresistible uplift that captures the immediacy of Earl’s art.
- Multiple Songs Label Website