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Anders Osborne - Black Eye Galaxy

Alligator Records

After trekking through much of the world from his native town of Uddevalla, Sweden, Anders Osborne is now a New Orleans based musician. The only New Orleans influences found on this release are the lyrics to one song. The blues are also nowhere to be found. The music here owes more to grunge and the intense period of Neil Young, as well as some more subdued, introspective songs. He takes writing credit on all songs, with three being co-authored. His song writing can be raw as he delves into his personal tribulations. The harsh undertone of some of the songs makes these songs come alive. His easy-on-the-ears vocals along with his intense guitar style lend urgency to this recording. This is a guitar-fueled affair, allowing for as much of a variety of sound as possible. If you are one of those people that need a label, maybe you can call this roots-grunge music.

The reappearing Neil Young-style of dirge-like guitar shows itself right out of the gate on the noisy-grungy goodness of “Send Me A Friend”, reinforcing the urgency of the lyrics. Slow plaintive Neil Young-like guitar also begins “Mind Of A Junkie”, a meditation on a junkie’s dilemma. All this over a lazy reggae beat. Anders shows his mellow side on “Lean On Me/Believe In You”, that reveals a “You’ve Got A Friend” sentiment. It also contains some soaring slide guitar similar to that of David Lindley. “When Will I See You Again?” has a guitar intro once again sounding “Young-ish”, but it quickly turns into a Jackson Browne-like lament, only with soul in the vocals and minus the whining. The familiar guitar sound appears again, nicely leading up to the final verse.

The subject of drugs is once again broached in “Black Tar”, a pounding swirl of grunge. The title tune is an anthem that sounds like it was lifted from the heady days of the early seventies. It bubbles over into some guitar-noodling that would make Uncle Jerry Garcia proud. “Tracking My Roots” is a pleasant stroll through country-rock territory that features Anders’ harmonica skills. The acoustic “Louisiana Gold” visits the theme of drifting to the accompaniment of bongos and bass drum. On these last two songs the atmospherics of the music breathe life into the lyrics. “Dancing In The Wind” shows a Jackson Browne folk-rock groove with a nice female voice underscoring the vocal. The turmoil and yearning throughout is resolved in the closer, “Higher Ground”. Ander’s voice rings like a bell over a string section and gospel-like backing voices in this tune about self-assurance.

What is attained here is a moving piece about the struggles one can encounter in life’s journey and the striving to overcome them. The lyrics, voice and juxtaposition of various musical approaches and textures give freshness to everything here. The basic two guitar-bass-and drums unit is supplemented by piano, harmonica and backing vocals. Most of the interplay is achieved by the guitars butting up against each other. The crunchier side of his music makes a big impression, overshadowing the fact the most of this recording is of a mellower bent. The journey presented here is sure to provide any hours of listening enjoyment.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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