A musical hodgepodge
Reviewed October 2010
By Anders Osborne
Alligator Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Sometimes there is something to be said for having a musical identity.
Anders Osborne is a pop singer/songwriter who has released nine previous discs since 1989 and has written songs covered by artists as varied as bluesman Keb' Mo' and country star Tim McGraw, a sign that he dabbles in differing styles. His new disc is "American Patchwork," a appropriate title since Osborne is musically all over the map. Originally from Sweden and now a longtime Louisiana denizen, Osborne's one constant on the 10 original tracks is a lack of consistency.
The opener is power blues-rock, "On the Road to Charlie Parker," with Osborne and Pepper Keenan grinding out hard guitar riffs, and it is a rousing start as the two-guitar and keyboard band pulls out the stops. Then, the momentum is lost with a schmaltzy pop confessional, "Echoes of My Sins," as Osborne goes on about his spiritual shortcomings without having a catchy musical framework. "Got Your Heart" follows, a bit of reggae sung in an affected island vocal, with a good drum punch that gets the music back on the right track, while sounding totally different than the first two tracks. Interestingly, "Killing Each Other" comes back with another reggae-vibe sound and lyric, with a harder edge, and it clicks even better a disc highlight.
The balance of the disc continues the potpourri, as effective, rocking blues numbers ("Darkness at the Bottom," "Love Has Taken Its Toll") alternate with bland lightweight ballads ("Acapulco," "Standing With Angels").
By disc's end, there is no prominent musical theme, no Anders Osborne sound. The craftsmanship on "American Patchwork" is first-rate and some of the songs are ear-catching, but Osborne's disc would be more entertaining if it were not so uneven and musically scattered.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.