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Joan Osborne — Smooth, Sultry Soul
The atmosphere around Nathan Phillips Square’s mainstage took on a more intimate vibe Saturday evening. Previous nights’ flashy guitar solos and booming bass notes were replaced by smooth piano melodies and equally smooth vocals as Joan Osborne delivered her blend of blues and soul.
The Anchorage native, best known for the Grammy-nominated single “One Of Us”, kicked off the night with an unrecorded track titled “This Is Where We Start”.
“We’re kind of testing these songs on you guinea pigs,” joked Osborne. “Happy guinea pigs, I hope!” she added spurring cheers of approval from the crowd.
The singer/songwriter then launched into “St. Teresa”, the lead track of her highly popular, second album Relish; her sensual and slightly raspy vocals belted out the track effortlessly.
She performed with pianist Keith Cotton whose mellifluous accompaniment complimented Osborne’s singing and occasional guitar playing. The duo produced soulful renditions of her famed “One Of Us”, as well as a cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”; both of which had the audience singing along.
When Cotton’s hands were preoccupied with the keyboard, Osborne improvised percussion, either playing pre-recorded beats from her iPhone or tapping the mic stand with a drumstick. She treated the crowd to a sultry version of Jimmy Hughes’ “I’m Qualified” from her current album Bring It On Home, which features reinvented covers of vintage blues, such as, Ray Charles’ “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and Muddy Waters’ “I Want To Be Loved”.
She capped the hour-long set with an encore performance of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child” showcasing that smooth drawl and earning a standing ovation as she left the stage.
Erica Rae Chong is pursing a bachelor’s degree in Journalism at the University of Toronto Scarborough