Many a man has put his guitar down and picked up a Bible, convinced that playing the blues was a one-way ticket to Beelzebub's eternal beach party. The blues has long been shrouded in the mystery and voodoo and alleged associations with the devil. Exhaustive research and numerous books debunk the myth Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to become the world's greatest bluesman — something you wouldn't think would actually require such devoted scholarship — and yet the fable lives on.
In the never-ending battle between good and evil, the warring forces have continually co-opted each other's weapons and stolen each other's tactics. If the blues – and later rock and roll – were instruments of the devil, the angels were just going to have to find someone with a mighty soul and spirit to carry the banner of the blues for the good guys. Ronnie Earl has lived through some hellish times on earth and has emerged from those trials burned and scarred but with a heart overflowing with a passion and desire to Spread The Love. Selling your soul to the devil makes for great mythology, but Earl has found a way to tell a better story. He expresses more than the blues that comes from that pain that living brings but also articulates the growth and wisdom that come from life's trials and the triumph of redemption that waits on the other side of those struggles. Amazingly, he does all of this without saying a single word.
A deeply spiritual, soulful current runs through these 14 songs. It's presence can be felt in the notes Earl plays and the way he plays them and it also comes through the piano and organ work of Dave Limina but just as importantly it can be felt in the spaces between the notes. These songs are drenched in power and beauty. The three song sequence in the middle of the record — "Happy," "Patience," and "Miracle" – and the majestic beauty of "Eleventh Step To Heaven" provide an emotional core as evocative as anything Earl has ever done. It's a musical embodiment of St. Francis of Assisi's famous quote, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.