Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne

Pretty Little Stranger

Vanguard

Joan Osborne has gone country?! That’s exactly what she has done on her latest album, Pretty Little Stranger. She also got some help from some of country music’s finest to push this album from good to great.

The title track opens the album with a straight-up no-frills country anthem about watching one guy after another go after a “pretty little stranger” and Osborne sitting back and wondering “who’ll the next fool be?” She deftly goes from pondering and mysterious (“Shake the Devil”) to silky smooth (“Holy Waters”) without even trying.

Osborne gets some harmony help throughout from Dan Tyminski (Alison Krauss and Union Station, O’ Brother Where Art Thou) on “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends,” which was written by Kris Kristofferson; Alison Krauss on “Holy Waters” and Vince Gill on “Time Won’t Tell.” Osborne also covers “Brokedown Palace” written by Jerry Garcia.

Osborne has been perusing all sorts of genres during the past decade. She had six Grammy nominations for her smash hit “One of Us” and her album Relish. After that, her star quickly faded. Her second album, Righteous Love, didn’t come out until 2000 and despite performing with such heavyweights as Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti and Taj Mahal in between albums, Righteous Love didn’t go anywhere. She proved her versatility however and in 2002 released a soul covers album How Sweet It Is and then played for a spell with The Dead.

Pretty Little Stranger is just another step in an increasingly impressive and diverse career. If you are expecting another pop record, you will be sorely disappointed. I’m sure Osborne doesn’t care though. She’s way past the pop phase in her life.

Vanguard Records: www.vanguardrecords.com

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