Joan Osborne – Nobody Owns You
This new set from the splendid voice of Kentucky-bred Joan Osborne starts with a reflective ballad that’s unadorned, yet because of her fine writing & performance will resonate with many ears. All the things we should’ve done & didn’t. There’s a subject many singer-songwriters seldom tackle with verve & vitality with Joan’s poignancy. Yes, Ms. Osborne’s audience is a little older now but there’s nothing here that younger listeners won’t understand. “I Should’ve Danced More,” is superb. During Ms. Osborne’s recent live concert in NJ, she opened with this new song & immediately captured her audience’s ears with her experienced vocal caress.
Not stopping there “Nobody Owns You,” is another powerful message song specifically for her own daughter. The musicianship while spare is genuine in its atmosphere. It sticks gently in the memory. Joan is one of the few artists I find consistent enough to listen through an entire album. Joan knows where to put the emphasis & finesse. It’s clear just how formidable she is.
The 12-impressions Joan offers on her 47-minute Nobody Owns You (Drops Sept 8–Womanly Hips Records) collection produced by Ben Rice (banjo guitar) are small autobiographical snippets & short stories. Many singer-songwriters in a similar vein don’t always capture this dalliance with the same discipline.
Joan isn’t an MOR/easy listening mainstream pop singer because many of her songs are more based in a folk aesthetic than a pop one. She does possess an identifiable sound & is determined to make every song teach something, say something, or relay a personal experience. She has succeeded.
Joan doesn’t lay out each tune with attitude or pontificating but maintains an entertaining, optimistic forte (“Great American Cities”). Wonderful stuff. The LP is balanced with songs that are uniquely composed & performed. With “Dig a Little Ditch,” Joan seems to channel her inner Tom Waits with intense lyrics & a bluesy melody from the soil of old plantations. Quite affirming & heavy.
While many artists have influences that run through their musical incarnations what’s admirable is that Joan never sounds like she’s emulating anyone. She absorbs her influences & returns it with her own indominable style. The music speaks for itself. One of the year’s best.
This CD is a handsome one – wonderful color portraits of Joan in a laminated 4-panel CD package that lacks only one feature – her lovely lyrics. This release deserved that bonus.
Highlights – “I Should’ve Danced More,” “Nobody Owns You,” “Woman’s Work,” “Time of the Gun,” “Dig a Little Ditch,” “Tower of Joy,” “Lifeline” & “Great American Cities.”
Musicians – Cindy Cashdollar (lap steel), Jill Sobule (vocals), Dave Sherman (piano), Jack Petruzelli (baritone guitar), Rachel Yamagata & Catherine Russell (bgv).
Portrait courtesy of Joan’s website. CD color image by Laura Crosta. CD @ https://joanosborne.com/ & https://alleyesmedia.com/joan-osborne-returns-with-nobody-owns-you-her-most-personal-album-to-date-out-september-8th/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Show Review: Joan Osborne at Newton Theater