Review: Anders Osborne – Black Eye Galaxy

Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012


Anders Osborne – Black Eye Galaxy

(Alligator Records: ALCD 4948)

Anders Osborne has followed up his Alligator Records debut, “American Patchwork”, which was released two years ago, with this stunning collection, “Black Eye Galaxy”, which tells of the struggles of his life, from the nightmare of addiction to the victory of recovery. It’s fair to say that his releases are probably the most radical that Alligator boss Bruce Iglauer has ever put out, far removed from the labels solid blues background, but it’s great to see him taking such chances as this is fine music indeed.

The Swedish-born Osborne has been based in New Orleans since 1985 and is among the city’s most in-demand performers, possessing a riveting guitar style and a fine voice . . . his music straddling rock, blues, folk and of course the sound of his adopted ‘N’Awlins’. “Black Eye Galaxy” was recorded at the famous Dockside Studio in Maurice, Louisiana, and produced by Osborne, legendary drummer Stanton Moore, and Warren Riker.

Moore features here on drums too, with the ‘core’ band also including Eric Bolivar (drums, percussion and vocals), Carl Dufrene (bass and vocals) and Billy Iuso (guitar and vocals). The ten tracks are all penned by Osborne, with two co-writes by him and Paul Barrere of Little Feat fame, and one with pianist Henry Butler.

The album gets off to a crunching and  intense start with the heavy, fuzzy riff of “Send Me A Friend”, where Osborne pleads for the “pain to stop”; leading perfectly into the epic “Mind Of A Junkie”, with the powerful song also seeing him stretch out with some beautiful guitar work reminiscent of Neil Young at his electric best. I thought a few tracks on “American Patchwork” had more than a fair piece of Jackson Browne in them, and here, the pairing of “Lean On Me/Believe In You” has that same feel, giving it an almost sunny West Coast groove.

“When Will I See You Again?” has a lovely feel to it, with more fine guitar work from Anders Osborne and gorgeous vocal, it’s gentleness a stark contrast to the next song, “Black Tar”, with more thunderous guitar riffing and ‘treated’ vocal . . . this co-write with Paul Barrere also featuring the background vocals of Sarah Osborne, Rose Osborne and Aria Iuso . . . which in turn leads to the title cut, “Black Eye Galaxy”, which weight in at a meandering 11:15 – a gentle, melodic opening giving way to some ‘spacy’ guitar work, with the middle section almost having a jam feel to it.

Elsewhere we have the pretty and folky “Tracking My Roots”, a nod to his Swedish upbringing and relocation; also the equally enchanting “Louisiana Gold”, which brought Paul Simon to mind with its percussive feel. “Dancing In The Wind”, again penned by Osborne and Paul Barrere, is another joy – a lovely ‘warm feeling’ acoustic tune – and again, impeccably performed by all. “Higher Ground” closes the album – a ballad co-written with Henry Butler –  with beautiful string arrangement by Stevie Blacke and heartfelt vocal by Osborne . . . a truly uplifting end to a superb album!


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