THE LINER NOTES to Ronnie Earl's fourth solo album, "Peace of Mind," quote B. B. King as calling Earl his "adopted son." Few of the young blues-rock revivalists have caught the distinctive B. B. King approach to the blues as well as Earl has, and never has Earl done it as well as he does on his new album.
Earl isn't much of a singer, but he wisely turns over those chores to Darrell Nulisch, who sings with King's robust, declamatory warmth; Tony Zamagni's B-3 organ reinforces that rounded, soulful tone. Against this fuzzy, glowing backdrop, Earl's electric guitar stabs with the pinpoint precision of King's.
Earl has curbed an earlier tendency to overplay, and his guitar solos are now dominated more by harmony and feeling than technical flash -- and the few fast passages are more impressive as a result. Ten of the album's dozen tracks are originals, and if they're unlikely to become standards, they are worthy variations on familiar Memphis and Texas blues classics. The songs that come closest to King's familiar sound are those that feature Earl's ex-bandmates, the Roomful of Blues Horns.
The CD version of the album ends on a somber note as Earl -- accompanied only by his guitar and Nulisch's harmonica -- sings a slow, mournful, country blues in tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan.