With the lead single, One of Us, from her 1995 début album Relish, Joan Osborne had a brief dalliance with mainstream success, but it wasn’t to convert into long-term name recognition for her. Since then Osborne has diligently continued releasing music, interspersing original works with covers of soul, R&B, and blues classics, earning herself a reputation as a versatile and powerful singer along the way.
For her forthcoming ninth studio album, Osborne has turned her attention as a deft re-imaginer of songs, to the substantial back catalogue of Bob Dylan. As a cover song, High Water simultaneously manages to sound unique and utterly true to the original. It is some form of black magic, and Osborne credits her musical collaborators – guitarist Jack Petruzzelli and keyboardist Keith Cotton – for their roles in bringing her interpretations to life.
Osborne’s High Water wastes no time in pulling the listener in, with an insistent guitar riff and trotting drums providing the track’s propulsion from the outset, while bass and organ fill out the mix, never distracting from or being overpowered by the rest of the instrumentation. Despite the song’s overall folksy, country-rock vibe, Osborne’s vocals add a welcome soulful warmth, with just enough grit to truly polish the performance. We can only hope that High Water is indicative of the quality of Songs of Bob Dylan.