Kentucky native Joan Osborne first came to prominence in 1996 with the Grammy-winning record Relish, which featured the controversial hit “One of Us.” In the decades that followed, she has proved herself as versatile as a vocalist as she is powerful. She has explored nearly all facets of American music, collaborating with the brothers Holmes and Funk, touring with Phil Lesh and Friends, and performing at the Grand Ole Opry.
For her eighth Mountain Stage appearance since 1995, Osborne performed songs from her recent release, The Songs of Bob Dylan. Coincidentally, Bettye LaVette, who had just released a collection of Dylan songs of her own, appeared on this same night.
Osborne opens with a distinctly soulful take on “Quinn the Eskimo,” beginning with just her voice and a bluesy piano. The song builds slowly, layered with vocal harmony, ending on that familiar chorus.
The rest of her set follows suit, with Joan’s vocals serving as the star of the show, backed by simple-but-effective piano by Keith Cotton and guitars by Andrew Carilllo. One of the tricks to covering familiar songs is adding personal touch to the adaptation, which Osborne does by altering and tinkering with rhythms and moods often associated with the Dylan originals. She carries the songs with authority and, within the moment, commands full ownership.
Her choice of songs was not necessarily the obvious: the easy lilt of “Spanish Harlem Incident;” a hypnotic, and minor-keyed take on “Highway 61 Revisited;” and “Buckets of Rain.” Osborne closed her set with the dark, poignant and still-relevant “Masters of War.”
Osborne will be touring throughout Spring 2019.
- “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)”
- “Spanish Harlem Incident”
- “Highway 61 Revisited”
- “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven”
- “Tangled Up In Blue”
- “Buckets of Rain”
- “Masters of War”