Artist: Anders Osborne
Album: Flower Box
Label: Back On Dumaine Records
Release Date: 07/22/2016
There’s nothing flowery about Anders Osborne’s brand of rock. It’s straight-ahead, guitar-driven blues that stays true to the influences he’s acknowledged since arriving on these shores from his native Sweden in 1985. He lists Neil Young as one of his favorite artists, and there are plenty of Crazy Horse-style jams on Flower Box, Osborne’s second studio album of 2016 (Spacedust & Ocean Views was released in March). Songwriters such as Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell were also big influences, and Osborne at times displays a softer side in his songwriting and vocals. Still, he often can’t help himself from changing direction mid-song, starting out with a tender acoustic sound before turning things up with his fiery guitar.
Most of the eight songs on Flower Box are lengthy due to extended soloing, but Osborne’s playing, supported by Scott Metzger and Rob McNelley on guitars, never seems indulgent. He gets right down to business on the album’s opening track, “Different Drum,” a seven-minute rocker that sets the bar high in terms of energy and musicianship. The songs that follow — “Fool’s Gold,” the title track and “It Can’t Hurt You Anymore” — build on that groove before Osborne slows things down with the soulful “Gospel of St. John.” “Born to Die Together” kicks off with a reggae beat and then jams its way to the finish. “Old Country” is similarly constructed, with an acoustic opening that transitions to one of the album’s hardest rocking tunes.
There are plenty of guitarslingers with lightning in their fingers, but Osborne’s songwriting sets him apart from many of his fellow shredders. Flower Box is his 13th studio album, a fine followup to previous efforts like American Patchwork and Black Eye Galaxy. He’s also a tireless live performer, touring with his own band as well as with Phil Lesh and Friends, the North Mississippi Allstars and other highly regarded acts. According to his fellow musicians, Osborne’s talent is surpassed only by his warm and generous spirit.