Joan Osborne’s debut album for Vanguard Records, Pretty Little Stranger brings this highly respected singer-songwriter back to her Kentucky roots with six originals and six cover songs that are subtle country-bluegrass blends.
Described as her “Nashville album,” Osborne collaborated with producer Steve Buckingham (Dolly Parton’s soundman) to create a truly traditional sound – no bells or whistles — just Joan in the spotlight with her sultry, alto voice. The beauty of its simplicity pays respect to those she covers (Jerry Garcia, Kris Kristofferson and Patty Griffith). Her gospel-like rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Brokedown Palace” is nothing short of spectacular.
Known as an interpretive singer, Osborne takes this opportunity to showcase her own originals. A bit lukewarm in general – Joan’s understated approach doesn’t draw out the soulful pipes we’ve heard on past albums. Nonetheless, the silky sounds are soothing and further complimented by guest vocalists Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill.
Pretty Little Stranger proves that Osborne can hang her hat in country as comfortably as she has just about everywhere else. This is the same woman who hit the charts with “One of Us,” toured with legendary Motowners, The Dixie Chicks and joined San Francisco’s veteran rockers The Dead as a vocalist –most recently finishing up a tour with Phil Lesh and Friends. Obviously, PLS just scratches the surface of what she’s capable of… now that she’s dipped her toe in country perhaps next time she’ll take the plunge