Soulful singer-songwriter ruminates on relationshipsWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t be fooled by the title of Joan Osborne’s latest disc: “Love and Hate” is anything but simple.
On 12 tracks, the blues-rocker analyzes different phases of romantic relationships.
“The way a whiskey tingles downward/ The way a storm can boil the sea/ The way the summer makes everybody younger/ That is how you work on me,” she sings on “Work on Me.”
“There’s this great Gershwin tune, which is called ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me,’ and it’s got these beautiful lyrics. I mean, everybody knows the song,” Osborne said and then sang a verse of the classic.
“I felt like there was something really truthful in the lyrics of that song because it talks about loving somebody and falling for somebody not with this language of, oh the sky opened up and the stars fell down and my heart stopped — nothing grandiose like that. It’s just these very little details of ordinary life, small gestures that you see someone do, and it’s something about that, it really impacts you and really makes you know that you’re crazy about them. I felt that was how we actually experience loving people.”
Another track, “Raga,” was inspired by a poem titled “The Shipfitter’s Wife” by Dorianne Laux.
“It’s from the perspective of a woman whose looking back many years later on the great love of her life,” Osborne said. “I think it’s hard for people to really experience their love with someone when it’s actually happening, and it’s only when we think about it years later that we can allow it to sort of penetrate us. And it’s like you take these memories and these moments out, and they’re these beautiful little jewels that you’re examining.
“And to me, that poem really captured that phenomenon and it was very much inspiring to me, so much that I used a couple of the words from the poem in my song lyrics, so Dorianne is credited as a co-writer.”
Since topping the charts with “One of Us,” in 1995, the passionate singer-songwriter has released a string of critically acclaimed discs. In addition, Osborne sang with the Funk Brothers in the 2002 documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” and toured with surviving members of the Grateful Dead in 2003.
More recently, she joined drummer Steve Gorman and guitarist and singer Jackie Greene of the Black Crowes and bassist Nick Govrik and guitarist Tom Bukovac to form the rock band Trigger Hippy, which released its self-titled debut Sept. 30.
“[The band] seemed like a really cool, really fun thing, different from my own music, but also still in the same arena. It’s not like I’m going off to sing opera; it’s still in my wheelhouse, ” she said and laughed during a call from her New York City home. “I like the fact that we have from the very beginning been a band that’s about writing new songs and about recording original material.”
Osborne will bring her Love and Hate Tour to the Ark in Ann Arbor for an 8 p.m. show Oct. 15. Tickets are $35; doors open at 7:30 p.m.
“[Music] is really kind of part of our human DNA. There’s been music in every culture that’s ever been, and it’s been an important part of every culture that’s ever been, so I think there’s a very deep spiritual aspect to music,” she said. “I think that’s why it’s such a powerful medium.”