Review and Photography by Stacey Lovett
Artists not only beautifully depict but also facilitate growth in our society. When Bob Dylan sang to the world about the times that were a-changin’, he not only set the scene for his generation but also a voice for the future. Joan Osborne continues that voice on her tour supporting her most recent Songs of Bob Dylan album and graced the stage of Austin’s One World Theatre for an intimate performance of the timeless tunes.
And grace is a fitting word to describe this songstress but not without also stating she is also deeply soulful and savory, encompassing an empowering embodiment of femininity. Joined by Keith Cotton & Jack Petruzzelli on stage, the trio set a special mood for her rendition of the classic power of Dylan’s tunes. They opened with “Quinn the Eskimo” to get the vibe going and eased into the depth of the evening, adding in a few unrecorded gems into the set. She sings with wisdom, weaving her own life into each verse, and picked up the acoustic guitar throughout the set to round out the universal allure of Dylan’s music. He presents deep themes and subjects without much musical complexity yet the balance of that poetry places the complexity right where it needs to be to accent his poignant genius. It is malleable prose which transcends so much through society and through genres and styles to unify everyone just as art intends while allowing space for radical interpretation. Osborne took this creative license for “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and blew the audience away with a heavy, sultry soulful rendition complete with her signature siren-like howls, adding a woman’s touch and sound to the well-known incantation of the tune. Joan Osborne herself is no stranger to deep allegorical imagery relating the human condition in her songs, so it’s only fitting for her to cover her valid interpretations of this fellow great’s musical compendium. Cotton wove the tapestry behind the grand piano while Petruzzelli gilded the production bringing this heroine of soul’s feminine power to the forefront with what she voiced as her intent to use music as a tool of great power to express and revive feelings – to unify – in divided times, but also an action of connectedness bringing together people through lyrical love & truths. And while this is a universal motive, it speaks higher volumes to our country with Dylan’s defining sound of Americana and Osborne’s undertones of Appalachia. She balanced the tenderness of “Buckets of Rain” revisiting “Highway 61” in her own sermon-like deliverance.
After gifting fans with another unrecorded “Gotta Serve Somebody” she served up an encore to top off the weighty performance. Osborne belted out a strong yet tender rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” before leaving her fans with a modern version of her 90’s hit “One of Us,” relishing them with feminizing the pope as her ending note. Joan Osborne in all her presence defines femininity and carries that organic energy and wisdom in her air much like the determination and power that rolls in with a storm. Stoking the fires of Dylan, Osborne continues to light the way for artists – and women – alike, nurturing the roots while harvesting her own fruits of feminine wisdom.