30 March 2014

Joan Osborne - Relish

Now whilst trailing through various articles about albums which are going to be released this year, a name jumped out that I had not heard for quite some time - Joan Osborne.  Brief history lesson for the people who are clueless to this woman (and I am sorry to say that it is done from the point of view of someone in the UK):  In 1995, Joan Osborne released the album you are reading about now called 'Relish'.  From this album came the international hit single "One Of Us".  This proved to be a very popular track and the album itself was nominated for a Grammy award.  After this though (at least in the UK), it has sort of been quite for Ms Osborne over here in England.  She has been releasing albums which have enjoyed mixed success according to Wikipedia in the USA, been nominated for more Grammy's (7 according to her website) but she has yet to have the same sort of success (as a solo artist at least) as she did with this first release. She has been nominated for another Grammy as part of Trigger Happy (not too sure if this is part of her seven nominations - she is proud of these I feel) which is still nothing to be sniffed at.  But seeing her name on the list of albums to be released this year made me wistful to hear this album again and try to figure out why I have never owned it.  So whilst doing it I might as well write up about it as well.

Starting the album off is "St. Teresa" which was the second single to be released in the UK.  It is acoustically driven affair, used to showcase Osborne's deeper vocal ranged.  Sort of like a folk "Black Velvet" from Alannah Myles, it is a decent opening but it is hardly life changing. Next is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Man In The Long Black Coat".  It is a very slow and again it is very pleasant on the ears; but it seems to go on forever like a dark long teatime of a broken Wednesday in April.  It is safe to say it is not one of the best Dylan covers out there.  Next is "Right Hand Man" which I thought was a Sheryl Crow song for a few moments. Again, it is not bad but it is hardly exciting either.  It not have any fizz or excitement either. So far, so dull..... "Pensacola" does nothing to change this momentum, the voice is in fine form on the song and the band is playing well yet I find myself in an Americana coma by the end of the tune."Dracula Moon" should be a hell of a lot more exciting given the title, but sadly it is not the case.  I find Osborne's vocals to be very powerful, very compelling; yet this is the musical equivalent of a cold egg sandwich.  It is alright, but you would not pick it up out of choice.  Then you have the big hit - "One Of Us".  Now this is a well crafted song and is truly genre crossing.  It was a deserved hit at the time and works very well now.  So at the half way point of the album we have only had one song that has any sort of passion (or pulse).

"Ladder" is a natural fold to "One Of Us", it has a similar sort of feel and makes the listener take more notice of the album.  It is a slow blues stomper, much better overall and plays to Osborne's strengths.  A clever and well played track.  Then they go back to the coma section of her song selection with "Spider Web", it bemoans the state of the world with MTV and other things keeping people in a coma.  I would like to add this song to the list of coma aids, dull as yesterday's dishwaters.  "Let's Just Get Naked" is another slow number which is supposed to sound sexy and dirty.  It sounds like someone singing on methadone and takes this album to a new low.  "Help Me" starts off with a harmonica which sounds promising but is nothing special, it is predictable and would have been much better as an instrumental.  "Crazy Baby" is an interesting number, it is a very slow number and like "Ladder" and "One Of Us", it is much better than the rest of the album.  That said, it is still not something I would want to hear too often. "Lumina" is much the same as the album, long slow and slightly disappointingly predictable.

I am beginning to remember why I have never owned this album at this point, it is pedestrian dull.  I like a few numbers from it, but much like the other albums that have been voted for album of the year at the Grammy's it does nothing for me.  What makes it more disappoint is knowing that the lady has a fine set of vocals and is talented.  I'm still gonna have a listen to her new album for the blog, but I am not expecting much if this is considered the peak of her career. 

2 out of ten - If only there was some quality control

Top track - One of Us

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Joan Osborne website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Alternatively, if you’re a Deezer user you can listen to the album on this link

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