Earl’s last few releases have occasionally been bogged down by excessive earnestness; stellar playing, but not much fun to listen to. And he’s tended to overwork dynamics, with whisper-quiet passages that distracted from the music’s flow. No such problems here, though – his music remains intensely personal, but gone is the sense that it’s a tool through which he’s working out his demons. He’s not exactly the life of the party, but there’s a feeling here that he’s once again finding, if not joy, at least a sense of fulfillment in his music. Spread The Love may lean a bit more to contemplative ruminations rather than blazing blues workouts, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying listen. And Earl remains, hands down, one of the finest guitarists around, endlessly inventive and possessed of breathtaking technical ability that never gets in the way of sheer feel – he can dazzle indeed, but it’s always about the emotional core of the song, not the notes themselves.
Spread The Love may well be Earl’s best yet. Highly recommended!