Coming off the career high water mark of American Patchwork, the rugged New Orleans based singer-songwriter Anders Osborne delivers another set of harrowing tales of addiction amongst hymns of hope and redemption. Black Eye Galaxy follows much of the same script as Patchwork in other ways, too: Galactic drummer Stanton Moore is again in charge of production alongside Osborne and Warren Riker, and Osborne handles most of the instrumental chores.
Osborne has always worn his influences on his sleeve, but over time he’s gotten so good at channeling them into his own composite style. He puts thick slabs of hard stomp and fuzzy riffs on top of Mississippi Hill Country Blues in “Send Me A Friend” (YouTube below) and conjures up a biting, Crazy Horse haze on “Mind Of A Junkie.” “Black Eye Galaxy” is an extended psychedelic jam we used to hear regularly at the turn of the 70s, and Osborne gets lost in his guitar, luring out spooky sounds and venturing into fusion jazz territory for a while. Just as effortlessly, he can be warm and engaging with a catchy, uplifting tune like “Lean On Me/Believe In You,” a fine display for both his voice and his slide guitar.
Toward the end of the record he turns toward Nashville (“Tracking My Roots,” “Dancing In The Wind”) and by the last track, he’s singing in front of strings (“Higher Ground”). The disparity of attitudes, tempos and noise level are held together by Osborne’s consistent ability to craft a song with moving lyrics, a committed vocal and some terrific guitar playing.
Lately, some of the best American roots rock is being made by a guy born an ocean away. When American Patchwork first appeared I wondered why Anders Osborne is not as widely known as John Hiatt and John Mellencamp. Upon listening to Black Eye Galaxy, by disbelief that this guy isn’t bigger only grows greater.
Black Eye Galaxy went on sale May 1, by Alligator Record. Visit Anders Osborne’s site for more info.