Having first taken over some of Jerry Garcia’s lead vocal duties on their 2003 reunion tour, longtime Dead collaborator Joan Osborne is excited to play a very special evening featuring the music of Jerry Garcia.
On her tenth studio album, the masterful Trouble and Strife, Joan Osborne has issued a clarion call. With stunning vocals, a diverse range of sonics, and incisive lyrics, this deeply engaging collection of new original songs is her response to “the crazy, chaotic times
we’re living in,” she says, and “a recognition of the important role music has to play in this moment. Music has a unique ability to re-energize people and allow us to continue to hang on to that sense of joy of being alive.”
Since she broke through 25 years ago with the multi-platinum Relish and its touchstone mega-smash “One of Us,” the seven-time Grammy nominee has never played it safe. Osborne has followed her restless musical heart, exploring a diverse range of genres:
pop rock, soul, R&B, blues, roots rock, gospel, funk, and country – all of which can be heard on Trouble and Strife, along with the Western side of C&W and a touch of glam and disco. “For a lot of the record, we were going for a ‘70s AM radio vibe,” says Osborne. As for the lyrics, the songs “are the most political I’ve ever written,” she conveys of her first album of originals since 2014’s confessional Love and Hate. Osborne also
produced Trouble and Strife, primarily recorded in her basement studio in Brooklyn and released on the label she founded in 1991, Womanly Hips.
Tackling serious subject matter in her writing while crafting music to “uplift,” Osborne
assembled “a great live band” (including several musicians who played on her acclaimed
last album, Songs of Bob Dylan): guitarists Jack Petruzzelli, Nels Cline, and Andrew
Carillo, keyboardist Keith Cotton, bassist Richard Hammond and drummer Aaron
Comess. For vocal harmonies, she enlisted exquisite vocalists Catherine Russell, Ada
Dyer, Martha Redbone and Audrey Martells, whom she’s “had the great privilege to work
with over many years.” The result is a Trojan horse of a record – music that is energizing,
melodic, and hummable, with lyrics that call out the corrupt, the despicable and the
It’s been quite the journey since the woman AllMusic.com declared “the most gifted
vocalist of her generation” moved from small-town Kentucky to attend NYU film school in
the 1980s. Osborne’s astounding voice drew attention when she joined the fun at open
mic nights in downtown clubs, which eventually led to 1995’s Relish, “that rare breed of
album where critical consensus, popular approval and enduring appeal unite,” according
to American Songwriter. Since then, she’s performed with Motown’s revered rhythm
section the Funk Brothers and toured with the Dead (where she first met and sang with
Dylan). She’s harmonized with Stevie Wonder at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, duetted
with Luciano Pavarotti, and co-headlined a tour with the legendary Mavis Staples. She
has amassed a loyal fan base as she’s continuously traveled the country. Through it all,
she sees more clearly now than ever the essential role our troubadours play.
“I feel like music has this important job to do right now,” Osborne says. “Part of that job is
to help imagine a better future – and to hang on to hope. I want to play for people and get
them up on their feet and dancing. To let music do that thing it does – bring joy and energy
because we really need that right now.” With Trouble and Strife, she intends to do just that.