Joan Osborne – June 1
Osborne has already earned a reputation as both a commanding, passionate performer and a frank, emotionally evocative songwriter, her soulful songcraft reaches a new level of musical and lyrical resonance on her newest release, Love and Hate.
“This one feels a little different,” Joan Osborne says of her new release Love and Hate. In addition to being the beloved singer-songwriter and seven-time Grammy nominee’s eighth studio album and her eOne debut, the 12-song set is one of the most personally-charged, creatively ambitious efforts of her two-decades-plus recording career.
While Osborne has already earned a reputation as both a commanding, passionate performer and a frank, emotionally evocative songwriter, her soulful songcraft reaches a new level of musical and lyrical resonance on Love and Hate. Such insightful, emotionally complex new compositions as “Where We Start,” “Work On Me,” “Kitten’s Got Claws,” “Keep It Underground” and the pointed title track survey some of the more complicated terrain of romantic relationships, in a manner that’s rarely been attempted in popular music, while the album’s intimate, stripped-down sound marks a stylistic departure from the gritty blues-based rock for which Osborne is best known.
“I feel like each song on this album talks about a different aspect of love,” she says. “Love isn’t just one thing; it encompasses faith, passion, power struggles, humor, anguish, spirituality, lust, anger, everything on that spectrum. The people we love can bring out the very best and the absolute worst in us, because the leap that you make in trusting another person makes you vulnerable. When the endorphin rush of falling in love stops, that’s when the difficult work comes in. So I tried to come up with songs that were about different aspects of this continuum.
“These songs,” she continues, “were very influenced by things outside of the music world—poetry, film, short stories—that I felt had nailed truths about romantic love that I hadn’t heard a lot in popular music. The depictions of romantic love in blues and soul and pop music are usually either about the high of falling in love, the pain of being abandoned, or the power politics of breaking up with someone and kicking them to the curb. But in adult lives we seldom have the luxury of just saying ‘Alright, this isn’t working for me so I’m out of here.’ Most people’s situations lie somewhere between those extremes, and the challenge of navigating and surviving these situations is something that I wanted to reflect in these songs.”
Love and Hate is the product of an extended birth cycle that spanned no less than seven years—a period during which Osborne released two other albums and worked on an assortment of other musical projects. She and co-producer/guitarist Jack Petruzzelli—with whom she also recorded 2012’s Bring It On Home, which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Blues Album category—had initially intended to make a lush, pastoral album in the mold of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. But as she continued to write songs for the project, Osborne found herself drawn towards more personal subject matter.
“Jack brought me some pieces of music,” she explains, “and as I started putting lyrics and melodies to them, the lyrics that I was coming up with started to present a theme. It seemed very clear to me that these songs wanted to be a record about romantic love, so I didn’t fight it.”