Not unlike such disparate artists as John Coltrane, John Lennon, or Al Green, Ronnie Earl preaches music's underlying power to cure an ailing soul, and mend a broken heart.
On HEALING TIME Earl sets out to encourage us to, as he says, "feel the music, not just be awed by the technique," and the 11 songs included here lead listeners in this direction. "Churchin'," is an electrifying blues shuffle, while the tunes that follow take us on a musical journey through slow 12/8 blues ("Blues for Shawn") to a cheerful quasi-Latin feel ("Thembi").
Earl's lyrical, always bluesy, improvisations are strongly featured throughout. Organ legend Jimmy McGriff is also heard in superb form on many of the selections including "Blues on a Sunday" and "Catfish Blues." The album closes with a stately version of the traditional song, "Amazing Grace." On this African-American spiritual, Ronnie Earl leaves us with a sense of hope and optimism. HEALING TIME is an emotionally charged album that delivers a unique and potent balm for the soul. ~ cduniverse.com
--------------------------------------------------- Guitarist Ronnie Earl has evolved from late-blooming blues axeman (he didn’t take up the guitar until his early 20s) into that rare blues artist who’s widely esteemed by jazz critics.
The Boston-based guitarist is an unlikely jazz hero — he doesn’t read music and he isn’t a master technician. Still, the 48-year-old Earl is an inspired improviser and the composer of melodic blues-based instrumentals. Perhaps most importantly, he seems to feel every note he plays.
Earl must have been feeling awfully mellow during these sessions. Healing Time is almost as serene as Grateful Heart, the 1996 release that was Down Beat’s "Blues Album of the Year." Like Grateful Heart, the new one contains a number of pretty melodies and an abundance of soulful improvisations...
..."Churchin’" features a grooving swing beat and bluesy solos by McGriff and Earl. "Blues on a Sunday" is a lengthy slow-blues number with passionate instrumental exchanges and a very soulful vibe. Aside from the fiery blues shuffle "Lunch at R&M’s" and Muddy Waters’ "Catfish Blues," the remaining tracks on Healing Time are extremely mellow. Earl originals "Glimpses of Serenity" and "Bella Donna" are graceful but exceedingly slow, while "Blues for Shawn" and "Song for a Brother" mix Allman Brothers-style blues with a mystical vibe remindful of Van Morrison. The CD closes with a brief but heartfelt rendition of "Amazing Grace..." ~ Ed Kopp, allaboutjazz.com