Tuesday, September 7, 2010


It's really a bummer that some snide and cynical folks will write off Joan Osborne as a '90s artist.  Yes, her major label debut, 1995's Relish, was a classic (and was WAY deeper than the huge hit single, "One Of Us"). But she worked hard to keep her integrity and sense of indentity in an era where few artists were doing that. It took her a really long time to follow up - Righteous Love came out in 2000, and by then pop culture and the media had moved on.

Well, I'll admit that Relish is still probably my favorite album by Joan, but she's done so much great stuff since then! Righteous Love was amazing (she does a great cover of Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love," a great follow-up to Relish's "The Man In The Long Black Coat") -- "Safety In Numbers" is one of her finest moments, and there are lots of other great tracks on the album. People don't realize how prolific Joan was in the past decade: she released five regular albums, plus a Christmas album, toured on her own, as well as part of The Dead (and I think as part of Phil Lesh & Friends).

I especially love 2002's How Sweet It Is, a covers album.  Joan is a great writer, but she can interpret classics like few other singers.  She never sounds intimidated, and she shouldn't: she not only has the skills, but also the know-how to make a song her own. I think 2006's Pretty Little Stranger was sort of supposed to be a "country" album, as part of it was recorded in Nashville - I wish she went a bit further in that direction.  Still, it's a great album, and the title track and "Who Divided" are among her best songs. I also love 2007's Breakfast In Bed, another covers album that really worked well. Joan still tours and if you don't care about trends but you do care about soul, you'll catch one of her shows. 
  • The Classic Album: 1995's Relish
  • Other Great Ones: 2000's Righteous Love, 2002's How Sweet It Is, 2007's Breakfast In Bed
  •  The Collection: 2005's One Of Us is good for starters, but there really isn't a great Joan compilation
  • Look For: lots of stray Joan tracks, like: Joan and Jackson Browne's cover of Dylan's "My Back Pages from the soundtrack to 2000's Steal This Movie, Joan and Bob Dylan himself doing Bob's "Chimes Of Freedom" from the soundtrack to 1999's The '60s, Joan and The Holmes Brothers doing "Nobody's Fault But Mine" from the 2003 album Shout, Sister Shout! A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Joan's two collaborations with The Funk Brothers on the 2002 soundtrack to Standing In The Shadows Of Motown ("Heat Wave" and "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted").

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