Thursday, July 26, 2012

Black Eye Galaxy reviewed by David Stine

Black Eye Galaxy
Anders Osborne
Alligator Records
10 tracks/55:01

Anders Osborne’s 2010 American Patchwork seems to be the storm before the quiet. Where Patchwork was raw, disturbing, angry, and loud, Galaxy has many moments of Paul Simonesque love and introspection. I’m not saying one album is better than another, just that Osborne seems less angry and more mature AND more in love on BEG. “Send Me A Friend,” hits like early Led Zeppelin, however, with its primitive beat and over-the-top guitars. This is one of many “cry for help” tunes on the album. The semi-reggae styled “Mind Of A Junkie” which follows is disturbing in its exposure of, well, the subject matter. Song two is one of several where Osborne stretches out on guitar. His solos can be sometimes arty, sometimes annoying, and sometimes brilliant.

“Lean On Me/Believe In Me,” cut three is one of the “lovey dovey” songs herein and is maybe the closet I’ve ever hear Anders come to a country/pop sounding song. “When Will I See You Again,” could be Paul Simon except it rock out a bit more. “Black Tar” which follows is a return to Zep and an angry shaked fist BP for the oil spill.

The 11:15 title track “Black Eye Galaxy” is radio friendly and hummable until about mid-point where Osborne takes off on a psychedelic journey that sounds like good Dead on bad acid or bad Dead on good acid. You decide. After what sounds like maybe you CD skipped the refrain returns and we’re back to familiar and safe ground. I DO NOT recommend listening to this song under the influence! “Tracking My Roots,” is another folksy song of Osborne’s real and symbolic return to sobriety and the roots that matter. ”Louisiana Gold” is the most Paul Simon sounding track on the CD. There’s nothing wrong with Osborne’s becoming more of a folkie, but those used to the fiery and angry Anders may wish for more of an electric guitar approach than is provided here. “Dancing In The Wind” is a love song and if I needed to choose a B side for radio, this would be it” its simple and infecting. The Cd ends with the tolling of faraway church bells and “Higher Ground” stands, with its string arrangement to the resilience of both Osborne (his subject matter) and New Orleans itself.

This CD is a lovely if a bit mellower follow-up to American Patchwork, yet shows the same passion and commitment songcraft that has brought Osborne into the Alligator records fold. Nice job.

By the way, Osborne plays a bunch of the instruments aided on percussion by Eric Bolivar and Stanton Moore. Carl DuFrene (formerly of Tab Benoit’s band) plays bass.

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