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Anders Osborne - American Patchwork

Alligator Records

10 tracks/44:10

Anders Osborne rocks. He is an eclectic guitar slinger who is amped up and plays roots and gutsy music with big, distorted and amplified sort of sound. He has gained a big following by being more American in his music than Americans are. Perhaps social commentary is best done by someone born outside of the mix. I’ve seen him a couple of times and was very impressed with his work. I still am unable to classify it as truly blues, but then it isn’t really straight up rock, cajun, country, jazz, folk, pop, funk, or purely anything else, either.

Osborne blends musical styles into his Swedish and New Orleans mélange of a gumbo with a little Neil Young and Jackson Brown thrown in to boot. Now at home on Alligator Records, he has come to the big time home of the blues on the preeminent blues label and he delivers a fine effort. Sporting long tresses and a new, bushy beard, he looks more like something out of Woodstock than anything else.

Osborne pays homage to a few internal demons and his feelings about the world on this album. His personal life and life in general must weigh heavily on him and he represents those feelings oh so strongly in his songs. “On The Road to Charlie Parker” is where he begins and we get to see some really fuzzed up guitar with some slide and nice B3 organ work by Robert Walter that will be a theme throughout the CD. Osborne slows down the tempo with “Echoes of My Sins”. His folksy high-pitched vocals have never been my personal favorite, but he’s right on here with a very folksy tune. The sound mix and his vocal work on this CD are probably his best yet. Reggae is up next; “Got Your Heart” is Jamaica goes to New Orleans. The B3 remains in the forefront, and we get to see yet another side of this chameleon-like musician. “Killing Each Other” is a dark and foreboding commentary on our society, with an almost Bachman Turner Overdrive like set of riffs with B3 that later get really distorted and kitschy.

“Acapulco” is a song about escaping from life where Osborne wails about getting away from it all in the sun with a new identity. A slow rock ballad, he follows it with a driving rock song called “Darkness at the Bottom”. He sings of his going to either a personal or actual hell here, a very desperate song. But right after his bottoming out he’s “Standing With Angels” in a tune inspired by Bob Dylan and dedicated to his friend Christopher Carter whom he hopes is now with the Maker. He continues with “Love Taking It’s Toll”, another sad song about how love has ruined him; he delivers it with a big driving guitar sound and some huge solos. We finally have Anders in a somewhat good mood and relationship with “Meet Me In New Mexico”, where he misses his baby. Phone calls are not sufficient he and needs to meet up with her. The chorus of

“Baby if you still got it
If you still feel the way I do
I know you always wanted to go, so
Why don’t you meet me in the middle
Meet me in New Mexico”

is some of the most positive stuff he sings about, yet even here his love may be unrequited. This is a pop rock type melody with a bouncy flair. He finishes with an acoustic “Call on Me”, a song of returning home to his love from the road.
The songs are generally dark yet contain so much emotion that one can feel what he feels in his heart. American Patchwork is indeed a musical patchwork. While I would not classify any of these ten tracks as blues, it is a fine, fine album and perhaps the best Osborne has put together yet. If I could complain about anything I’d have to say I wanted more than ten tracks and 44 minutes of stuff, but the stuff we have here is really top notch so I can’t complain! Alligator and Anders have produce a powerful and exciting CD here; kudos to both artist and label for their exceptional album!.

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

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