All Anders Osborne wants is the same thing all of us wants: a little peace. But the frictions of his life continue to provide rich fodder for his well-honed roots rock confessionals. Peace is a quick follow up to Black Eye Galaxy (and the early-2013 Three Free Amigos EP), but the Swedish-born fixture of that copious New Orleans music scene has a well that just doesn’t run dry.
Always inward looking, Osborne has been a world traveller since his teens, making observations and taking good notes, but instead of describing scenes, he digs for meanings out of those experiences, sometimes finding answers, sometimes not. That’s real life, and his plainspoken accounts can connect even to the homebodies.
“Peace” finds raw feelings from the feedback fog of a beat-up Stratocaster, a nakedly effective method borrowed from Neil Young and Crazy Horse, singing of playing music from Woodstock “down to New Orleans” and seeing “dirty needles turn into wisdom” and “love I don’t understand.” The advance single “47″ is a shuffling, catchy number about ones life stalling out at middle age, almost with a resigned shrug.
The theme of getting old — sometimes too old to fix youthful mistakes — recurs on the acoustic guitar propelled “Windows” and the murmuring soul-folk of “My Son.” “Sentimental Times” seems to speak to a departed friend, profoundly delivered with the help of a small, solemn horn arrangement. It’s a forlorn look back at better times that lasted until “Katrina came and took it all away.”
Osborne makes a few intereesting diversions from his usual patterns: “Five Bullets” combines the early 70s crunch of Mountain with lyrics sang hip-hop style, but it’s no concession with Osborne; he uses it to add weight to this third-person tale of violence. “Brush Up Against Me” is an experimental, everything-but-the kitchen sink trance/sound collage that acts as a treacherous bridge between “Five Bullets” and “Sentimental Times.”
It’s only near the end at “I’m Ready,” with a gospel organ breathing behind him, does Osborne sing of redemption. With the weariness and relief of a man with a weight lifted off his shoulders, he sighs, “I found a way to move on.” But peace never comes without fighting those inner battles, and Osborne wages those wars on Peace, which in the end is another set of his songs with lyrics that come off cleanly, guitars that are gloriously dirty and emotions that leave a mark after the last chord fades away.
At 47, Anders Osborne is just hitting his peak.
Peace released October 7, by Alligator Records. Visit Anders Osborne’s website for more info.
Feature photo credit: Jerry Moran