One of Us

Joan Osborne's new album beats with matters of the heart

Special to the Union Leader
April 17. 2014 12:58AM

MUSICAL JOURNEY: Joan Osborne, whose hit “One of Us” led to a Grammy Award in the mid-1990s, is on tour promoting her latest release, “Love and Hate,” which examines light and dark moments of relationships. 

Released last week, "Love and Hate," is seven-time Grammy winner Joan Osborne's eighth studio album and it not just dives but plunges into matters of the heart.

And, yes, Cupid can be tipsy, sober, jubilant or confused when he shoots an arrow.

Osborne will share her musings on love when she performs two Granite State shows this weekend, Friday night at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry and then Saturday evening at the Lebanon Opera House. She performs on the bills in the Joan Osborne Trio featuring Jack Petruzzelli and Keith Cotton.

In addition, Osborne will mark Record Store Day Saturday with an in-store acoustic performance at 1 p.m. at the Salem Bull Moose, 356 South Broadway. An autograph session will take place after the performance.

Osborne's international smash hit "One of Us" hit the airwaves in 1995. It earned her a Grammy and potentially permanent airplay for life as a top tune of the year. She was one of the original artists on the Lilith Fair and has performed with acclaimed musicians including Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris and Patty Smith. And she's kept her sonic creativity in full production mode.

On "Love and Hate," Osborne wrote or co-wrote the tunes with longtime collaborator Petruzzelli, making it a personal and intimate project. The project is based upon an image that resonated with Osborne.

"The theme I kept coming back to is white light," she said. "When you look at it you say, 'That's what it is, but when you shine a beam of white light into a prism, you realize it's made up of all these different colors and all these different aspects. To me, that's kind of the central metaphor of what I was trying to do with this record — really examine all these different aspects of love. You could keep going with it.

"I feel like I could write four or five or six more records about it because of all the different aspects," she said.

Osborne recorded the album in Pennsylvania and New York over a long period of time. She utilized some old-school gear initially, but in order to move the process along also used ProTools and digital gear.

"It took such a long time to complete, and it went through all these different phases, so we moved over to using more modern equipment," Osborne said. "But, we would always put it through the old-school tube equipment first to get that kind of warmth and sensual sound."

One song in particular on the album evokes more than just sensual sound. "Raga" is the last song on the album and Osborne credits a poem called "The Ship Fitter's Wife" by writer Dorian Laux as the inspiration for the tune. The song comes from the point of view of a woman who's looking back on a marriage with some erotic musings.

"When remembering moments of tenderness and affection, we use them like talismans, in a way, and we burnish them by thinking about them over and over and over again," she said.

As a songwriter, Osborne credits self-discipline as the reason for much of her ongoing success.

"Whatever talent you have, if you don't have any discipline, it will be completely wasted, so you really need to get some sort of routine going and just get out of your own way," Osborne said. "You can't wait until you feel like writing or until you have that perfect moment of inspiration of quiet and calm because it's rare that we have that in our lives. You have to make yourself work whether you like it or not.

"There are ways that I work that try to take advantage of random juxtapositions, like take a lyric that you thought was going to go with one idea and throw it with another idea completely," Osborne said. "Sometimes it doesn't work but sometimes you come up with something that is really cool — much cooler than you ever would have thought of otherwise."


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