Album Reviews: Joan Osborne – Songs of Bob Dylan

Joan Osborne has been plying her craft for more than two decades and over her years in the music industry she has become known as one of the most iconic artists to grace the stage. Her rich, honied and sultry vocals breathing life into some of the most well-known songs of our time.

This year however she doesn’t concentrate on creating more of these songs but instead turns her hand to those of another. Combining one of the most iconic voices with one of the most iconic artists, Osborne brings to life 13 phenomenal songs in Songs of Bob Dylan. This is an absolutely stunning and deeply evocative collection of Dylan’s best work, reworked and reimagined with Osborne’s own special twist. First and foremost the guttural and gravelled vocals of Dylan that are so well known have been replaced with Osborne’s harmonious and sweet voice that sways like trees in the breeze. Reproducing such seminal classics as Tangled up in Blue and Buckets of Rain, Osborne sets her sights high; these are songs that are loved by millions across the globe and Dylan’s own charismatic voice is a huge draw in this. However, Osborne draws from his work but completely stamps her own unique skills and styles throughout it. Her sugar-sweet voice is tinged with blues and takes over Dylan’s work with a charming, almost gospel feeling. Her vocals are utterly resplendent as well as soulful and this elevates her renditions of these already astounding songs to greater heights still.

Osborne is no stranger to making music and with some of the greatest written tunes at her fingertips it’s a monstrous feat to be able to turn these tunes on their head and inflect her own identity into this music but it is a feat that she has accomplished a hundred times over. Rich and polished tunes flow throughout the album, as passionate and driven as their predecessors and never veer far from their original state; instead simply concentrating on subtle changes that bring Osborne’s influence within the songs to life. These songs are rich and soothing, rife with tender piano and organ melodies as well as violin tunes that dip and soar like skylarks. Her music is softened but still powerful and it retains a poignantly uplifting quality that still compliments Dylan’s astounding work but also allows Osborne to carefully stitch her own unique style into it.

Bob Dylan is arguably one of the most revered and iconic artists of his time and tackling his exhaustive catalogue of work for most would be an insurmountable task but Joan Osborne has carefully hand-picked 13 of his greatest tracks and reproduced them with her own grace and style to capture a truly stunning and unmissable album.

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Review by Joe Knipe