On Songs of Bob Dylan, Joan Osborne unleashes her sizable gifts as a vocalist and interpreter upon The Bard's celebrated canon. With performances honed by the time Osborne spent polishing them during "Joan Osborne Sings The Songs Of Bob Dylan" two critically acclaimed two-week residencies she performed at New York City's Café Carlyle in March 2016 and 2017 the seven-time Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum-selling singer and songwriter, whom The New York Times has called "a fiercely intelligent, no-nonsense singer," winds her supple, soulful voice around Dylan's poetic, evocative lyrics, etching gleaming new facets in them along the way.
"I try not to do a straight-up imitation of what someone else has done," Osborne says. "Like if you're going to sing an Otis Redding song, you're never going to out-Otis him so you shouldn't even try. So I always try to find some unique way into the song, and also to pick songs where the intersection between the song and my voice hits some kind of sweet spot. It was a joy being able to sing these brilliant lyrics. It's like an actor being given a great part. You are just so excited to say these lines because they're so powerful that it lifts you up above yourself."
Unconstrained by any notion of trying to imitate or surpass Dylan, Osborne felt free to play with the songs' arrangements, a process that was also enabled by the virtuosity of Osbornes collaborators, guitarist Jack Petruzzelli (Patti Smith, The Fab Faux) and keyboardist Keith Cotton (Idina Menzel, Chris Cornell), who performed with her at Café Carlyle, and with whom she co-produced the album. "They bring this wealth of skills to the table," she says. "Any crazy idea we came up with, they could do. So it was wonderful to have that level of musicianship at my fingertips." Half the songs were recorded with the trio and the other half feature a full band.
The album spans Dylan's beloved standards from the '60s and '70s ("Masters of War," "Highway 61 Revisited," "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," "Buckets of Rain," "Tangled Up In Blue") to some of Osborne's favorites from his later albums,including "Dark Eyes" (from 1985's Empire Burlesque), "Ring Them Bells" (from 1989's Oh Mercy), "Tryin' To Get To Heaven" (from 1997's Time Out of Mind),and "High Water" (from 2001's Love and Theft). "His versions are legendary and I'm not trying to improve on them," Osborne says. "I'm just trying to sing beautiful songs and let people hear them. It's about trying to give a different shade of meaning to something that's already great."
Songs of Bob Dylan is a follow up to the singer's 2014 album, Love and Hate, and 2012's Grammy-nominated Bring It On Home. AllMusic has called her "the most gifted vocalist of her generation and a singer who understands the nuance of phrase, time, and elocution." The Kentucky native famously got her start performing her own songs in New York City's downtown rock clubs, around the time that she began to rediscover Dylan's work with Oh Mercy. In 2003, Osborne joined the surviving members of The Grateful Dead and had the chance to sing with Dylan, their co-headliner.
"Her set was magic...the evening was a rediscovery of familiar Dylan, re-mined for new riches...hearing Osborne singing and dancing the Dylan greats was further testament to their versatility, beauty, and his genius" - Huffington Post
"I have seen the future of Bob Dylan interpretation - and her name is Joan Osborne."- Relix
"What's especially winning about [Osborne] is her range: sexy and earnest. Her voice, all on its own, conveys whole choirs of feeling." - Rolling Stone
"Osborne sheds new light on old material, exposes some seldom heard Dylan gems and proves once again how flexible and powerful his work remains." - Hal Horowitz, American Songwriter
1. Tangled Up In Blue
2. Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
3. Buckets Of Rain
4. Highway 61 Revisited
1. Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
2. Tryin To Get To Heaven
3. Spanish Harlem Incident
4. Dark Eyes
5. High Water (For Charley Patton)
1. Youre Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
2. Masters Of War
3. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
4. Ring Them Bells