Karl Denson said Anders Osborne is Neil Young. I say he’s John Coltrane.
After Coltrane kicked heroin, he lived every precious moment that remained in his life devoted solely to his music. It’s the same with Osborne, who has been writing songs, making albums and performing live with fiery purpose. To borrow a verse, Anders, the fire you’ve got is meant to burn hot.
Like the previous three records he’s made since 2010 with Alligator Records, “Peace,” released Oct. 8, is an intense, autobiographical rock jam. PURCHASE Amiable and soft-spoken offstage, Osborne doesn’t prefer to discuss his addiction and recovery, but he screams about them in his music. Each record he makes is more intense, even greater than the previous one.
Osborne at the High Sierra Music Festival said he’s thinking now with more clarity than he ever has, and it’s abundantly clear whenever he is onstage or in the studio, which is all the time. He puts everything into each note, playing it as it might be his last.
He sings, “Got a few teeth left but lost the smile,” in the song “Let It Go,” which continues the mantra from “On the Road to Charlie Parker” from the Alligator debut, “American Patchwork,” and “Black Tar” from the follow-up, “Black Eye Galaxy.”
It’s one of many standout tracks from “Peace.” Subtle and not-so-subtle nods can be heard to Osborne’s influences: free jazz, New Orleans, Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead and, most of all, Neil Young.
As is his wont, be it on his own records or those he’s produced, such as Mike Zito’s brilliant “Greyhound,” Osborne starts loud and fast. He does so this time with 42 seconds of feedback on the opening and title track, “Peace.”
Somewhere, Cortez the Killer is grinning.
Denson called Osborne “Neil Young” when they were in Tahoe for a concert covering the entire Rolling Stone’s “Sticky Fingers” album. He added, Osborne’s intensity these days “is kind of scary.”
Lou Reed for the Velvet Underground in 1967 describes a drug experience with “Heroin.” Osborne lets the listener step inside of his head with “Brush Up Against Me,” a frenzied, frightening, urgent and sometimes peaceful song.
The first tune released as a single is “47” (‘nothing happened” when he was that age), but the standout is “I Am Ready.”
Remember Young’s “Old Man”? This song could be from the same passionate voice decades later, weary, resolved and on the right, yet tenuous, track:
“I’m ready to leave this behind, already feeling so much better.
Tomorrow, yesterday’s perfectly fine; I’m ready to live my forever.”
Since 1989 Osborne’s totaled 13 solo records, he’s recently produced three albums with Tab Benoit and his Voice of the Wetlands All Stars friends and he is a brother in the Terrapin Crossroads family. Mainstream success nears with every new project, and the latest, “Peace,” is superb.
Anders Osborne: ‘Peace’
Buy album: CLICK
In concert: Hangtown Halloween Ball, Placerville, Oct. 24-27, wwwhangtownhalloween.com