Anders Osborne – American Patchwork

January 01, 1970

(Alligator)

 

www.alligator.com

 

For those who think the blues, or modern music for that
matter, has little left to say that is serious or important, along comes Anders
Osborne to prove that music can still matter. On his 10th album, American Patchwork Anders, originally
from Sweden but a New Orleans based
guitarist and songwriter, has produced his greatest album, a work filled with
personal pain and the search for redemption. This is modern blues-adult
music-at its transcendent best.  

 

Osborne has long been known for his intense live shows and
slashing guitar and slide work. His concerts have made him something of a cult
figure in New Orleans.
But he also, over the past few decades has established himself as a first rate
songwriter, having written songs for Keb Mo’s Grammy award winning album along
with a number one country hit for Tim McGraw. But even as he achieved success,
his life began to fall apart.

 

American Patchwork chronicles
his fall in harrowing detail. The CD opens with the intense and ominous “On the
Road to Charlie Parker.”  Osborne sings
about the seduction and danger of heroin: “You’re living on the ledge, afraid
of the edge…You mess around with trouble that you can’t solve…You’re like a
diamond that don’t shine…You’re like a Rolex who knows your time…You’re think
you’re on to something. But you’re only running away.”

 

The intensity continues on the second track, “Echoes of My
Sins.” Osborne sings, “But as I slowly gave away my life. I could hear the
angels sing. So much louder than the thunder of my guilt. And the echoes of my
sins.”

 

These songs show a man wrestling with himself and fighting
the encroaching darkness. They are both poetic and poignant. The masterpiece of
the set is a balled where Osborne gets to show off his slide work on guitar, “Acapulco.” In a world
weary voice filled with regret, he sings, “Think I’m headin’ down to Acapulco. Leave no trace
of who I’ve been. I’ll make sure that nobody knows. Why I’m leaving or if I’ll
come back again…I’ll live out my life down on that golden coast. And everyday I’ll
slowly let my memories go.” The song reminds me of the famous 1964 movie,
“Night of the Iguana” by John Huston where Richard Burton flees to Acapulco in search of redemption.
One can only hope the protagonist of the song meets his Ava Gardiner down
there.

 

All ten songs on American
Patchwork
were written by Osborne and they range from the New Orleans
R&B sound of “Echoes of My Sins” to the reggae-like beat on “Got You
Heart.” But Osborne more than lives up to his reputation as a guitar legend on
this album. His use of an Open D tuning gives him a unique sound. And this
especially comes through on Rolling Stone like rockers like “Killing Each
Other.”

 

But for all its heavy themes, this album is in the greatest
of the blues tradition in that it is ultimately an album about hope. Osborne
has said about American Patchwork:
“This is the healing, the patching back together of a man scattered to the
wind, broken and in pieces. The rebuilding of my home, a city under water and
in ruins, friends lost, my community in disarray. All carefully patched and
made whole again by the power of my America, and its endless source of
inspiration to me.”

 

And in finding his hope. Anders Osborne does what all great
artists do: he gives the rest of us hope. This is an important album. One of
the best of this or any year.

 

Standout Tracks: “On
the Road to Charlie Parker” “Acapulco” “Killing Each Other” “Love Is Taking Its
Toll” TOM CALLAHAN 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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