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Joan Osborne (from the album Nobody Owns You on Womanly Hips Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
The woman who made her name early on by musing, “what if God was one of us’ probes the hypothetical once again. Here she suggests other options courtesy of “I Should’ve Danced More”, her new album’s lead off track that reflects a similar sort of ‘50s noir. It’s one of several songs on the assertively-dubbed Nobody Owns You, the follow-up to her last studio album, Trouble & Strife, which earned her some of the best reviews of her 25-year career.
While Osborne has generally been associated with a decidedly defiant attitude and a tenacious stance, the new album is surprisingly subdued. The title track, “So Many Airports”, “Lifeline”, “Tower of Joy”, “Secret Wine”, and “The Smallest Trees” are reflective and comforting to a great degree, and it’s only on occasion that Osborne’s otherwise forthright demeanor manages to make its way to the surface. “Woman’s Work” offers another example, an anthem of sorts that speaks to perseverance and persistence. So too, the eerie essence of “Time of the Gun”, with its ghostly harmonies and steady rhythm, speaks to the scourge of random violence that seems to have its lock on the nation as of late.
Indeed, though the mood may be mellow, the songs are mesmerizing. Producer and engineer Ben Rice effectively shifts the tone and tempo throughout, making an otherwise assertive song like “Dig A Little Ditch” sound like something akin to a somewhat surreal work song. It’s a testament to Joan Osborne’s decided determination that she’s able to make a tale about toil such an alluring encounter.
Ultimately, there’s comfort compressed into each of these entries. ‘Everyone is a child of God’ Osborne insists on the song of the same name, repeating a mantra once told her by her mother and sung with the erstwhile enthusiasm that the sentiment deserves. The closing track on the album, “Great American Cities”, allows for an additional does of affirmation, echoing the Neil Diamond anthem “America” that was shared on soundtrack for The Jazz Singer.
Taken in tandem, the album provides a positive perspective overall, a confident yet contemplative mindset that ought to garner an enthusiastic response from fans both past and present. A triumph by any measure, Nobody Owns You is Joan Osborne’s best yet. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Joan Osborne from AMAZON
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