The Luckiest Man

The Luckiest Man is Ronnie Earl’s 25th album and his 11th on Alberta’s Stony Plain Records, and on it Earl and the band welcome “newcomer” vocalist Diane Blue as a member. I say “newcomer” because since 2013 she’s guested on three of the band’s albums. Earl prefers relaxed tempos and his soulful solos reflect his desire “to bring joy and love to the world through my music.” His desire and Blue’s vocals are in harmony on the opener—“Ain’t That Loving You”—however, after “Jim’s Song,” a tribute to his late bassist, Jim Mouradian (whose signature phrase gave this album its title), Blue pops up and lets loose on “Heartbreak (It’s Hurtin’ Me),” which, thanks to her hollering, winds up hurting me, too. Earl’s joined on “Long Lost Conversation”—a sensationally super-slow blues, just one of several here—by old friend and associate harpist/vocalist Sugar Ray Norcia and his band. Blue’s definitely an acquired taste and it pains me to say this, but her haphazard singing nearly ruins this otherwise marvelous CD for me.