Joan Osborne: Little Wild One (Plum)

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Joan Osborne: Daddy-O
Joan Osborne: Little Wild One (Plum)

Osborne is probably already in some One Hit Wonders of The Nineties book for her chart-troubling One of Us. She'll be alongside Crash Test Dummies.

But there was always much more to her than that hit, as was clear when I interviewed her after a show in Vermont at the time. On the Relish album which sprung the unlikely One of Us, she acknowledged one of her co-writes as owing a debt to Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet who was given a co-credit) and she covered Dylan's Man in a Long Black Coat from his Oh Mercy album.

She naturally shunned the pop charts because her heart was grounded in the slightly country-styled singer-songwriter school (although she could and sometimes did belt out the blues and soul) and her most recent albums such as Pretty Little Stranger have seen her shift between adult pop-rock and country-rock.

For this album she is teamed again with those behind her career around the time of One of Us, notably producer/songwriter Eric Brazilian who penned One of Us, and Rick Chertoff who produced Relish (and which was nominated for six Grammys).

There's a real spark to this album as it strides confidently from slow ballads (the title track) to searing, guitar-driven alt.country, and on tracks like Rodeo and Can't Say No she seems to take off into some qawalli wail (not surprising if you read that interview). Elsewhere she gets away some slinky and slippery sensuality (To the One I Love), something with a nod to Anglofolk (Daddy-O) and includes an original with an acknowledged quote from Rev. Gary Davis' spiritual Light of This World.

She closes with Bury Me on the Battery which sounds like a home recording on a battered upright piano. 

Osborne is a rare talent and largely overlooked other than by her fan base. But the purity of her tone, her innate power which she employs judiciously, her bridging of soul and country, and the thoughtful lyrics she delivers make her someone quietly quite special. 

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