Review: Anders Osborne – American Patchwork

Posted on: Saturday, May 29, 2010


“American Patchwork”

(Alligator Records – ALCD 4936)

Here is a fine release from the Swedish-born, New Orleans-based, singer and guitarist, Anders Osborne – his first for Alligator Records. The title for “American Patchwork” based on the destruction and re-birth of his adopted home city – the loss of community and friends and the healing and redemption. The ten powerful songs, all written by Osborne, bar one co-write, are a mix of blues, rock and ballads – all demonstrating his gritty guitar work and most soulful voice.

Osborne is revered in New Orleans, where he arrived in 1985 after a nomadic few years hitch-hiking across Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, getting by doing odd jobs and playing in bars and on the street. Some of his musical leanings came from his jazz drummer father, who exposed him to the likes of Little Richard, Art Pepper and Miles Davis, moving on to Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Jackson Browne in his teens, listening to their records whilst learning the guitar.

Accompanying Osborne, who plays guitars, piano and percussion, are the crack band of Robert Walter (Hammond B3, piano, moog, clavinet, keyboard bass), Pepper Keenan (guitars, background vocals, percussion) and Stanton Moore (drums). The opening “On The Road To Charlie Parker” is dominated by a huge fuzzy guitar riff, great vocal and the funky keys of Robert Walter – a dynamite opener; with the following “Echoes Of My Sins” opening with more fine guitar, and for me, shades of Bob Dylan here in the vocal – and boy, what a great voice Anders Osborne has!

“Got Your Heart” has a nice reggae feel to it, and more great grooves from the band, locked in behind Osborne, with maybe shades of Jackson Browne here, and some slippery slide work. “Killing Each Other” has some lowdown growling guitar and hard-hitting lyric, before the lovely “Acapulco” – a pretty ballad that tells the tale of a man looking to start afresh in life and heading for the afore-mentioned Mexican resort.

“Darkness At The Bottom” is based around another grinding guitar riff from Osborne, whose playing is exemplary throughout, both on slide and fingerpicked, again ably assisted by the other three musicians locked in with him. “Standing With Angels” takes the pace down, back into ballad territory, another lovely song, inspired by Dylan Thomas, and dedicated to a friend, Christopher Carter.

Elsewhere the dark “Love Is Taking Its Toll” rocks out with more fierce riffing guitar work; “Meet Me In New Mexico” has a summery West Coast feel to it, with a really pretty guitar hook, sounds made for radio to me! This great album ends in acoustic mode with the gentle “Call On Me”, with name check for Jackson Browne included – fittingly with another top vocal from this fine artiste, who has the songs to match his musical ability.


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