Anders Osborne Black Eye Galaxy CD Review
Black Eye Galaxy
May 1 2012
by Grant Britt
For the last couple of years, Anders Osborne has sounded like he’s been trying to shatter eardrums with his bombastic trio blasting away at skull-crushing volume whenever ever he plays with them live. Even though he still retains some of that mind-numbing bombast, on record he’s been a bit more introspective, pitching his ideas at a lower volume. His most recent release, Black Eye Galaxy, can still pin your ears back, but his soulful side shines through here much more than on previous outings.
The singer/guitarist has made no secret of his battles with drugs and alcohol in the past, but he really trots it out for public display on “Mind of a Junkie.” Sounding like Joe Walsh vocalizing with Wes Montgomery on guitar, Osborne confesses that he’s been thinking like a junkie: “my soul is like a hurricane/but I’m still filled with self-doubt/I hate the way I look and my ego is always bruised/I isolate myself and I get some more tattoos.”
Thankfully for him and for us, he pulls himself out at the end. “I let God into my heart,” he confesses. “Black Tar” also address his former addiction: “Black Tar, leave me alone/can’t you see I’m movin’ on,” he proclaims as the band slams along like ’70s English arena rockers Bad Company.
Little Feat guitarist/songwriter Paul Barrere (“Skin It Back,””Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” “All That You Dream,””Time Loves a Hero,”) co-wrote both “Black Tar” and “Dancing In the Wind,” but it’s hard to believe they came from the same author. In sharp contrast to the hard-rocking “Black Tar,” “Dancin’” evokes Jackson Browne’s sweet folky manner.
“Higher Ground” is not the Stevie Wonder classic, but a-violin-sweetened family effort including his wife and children backing him on vocals, co-written by New Orleans pianist Henry Butler.
Osborne is an extremely gifted guitarist who can slide around like Ry Cooder and finger pick like Jorma Kaukonen. It’s great to be able to hear that talent displayed, not lost in a thunderous roar that too often obliterates his gifts when he plays live. Black Eye Galaxy gives you the best of both sides of Osborne. If you tire of the mellow side that makes up most of this stellar release, you can always go bang your head and roar long with the Zeppelin-esque “Send Me A Friend.” But this time around, you control the volume.