Those familiar with Anders Osborne’s frenetic and electrifying guitar workouts, whether on recent Alligator releases or especially live, may find Peace an unusual name for one of his albums. The cover photo of a young girl throwing you the finger also doesn’t exactly scream tranquility. But don’t let that title deceive you since even though this is a slightly more introspective and less fiery set, Osborne’s songs remain tough, sinewy, rootsy and baked in the funky New Orleans sun.
Pulsating rockers such as “Five Bullets” elbow in on Gov’t Mule territory and the hot-wired funk of “Let It Go” is as swampy and sweat soaked as a summer’s night on the bayou. The psychedelic, nearly avant-garde “Brush Up Against Me” with backwards tapes and sound effects is eerily reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix at his most experimental. Its juxtaposition against the stark simplicity of the lovely ballad “Sentimental Times” that looks back fondly on a simpler era now gone forever, shows the diversity of Osborne’s palette. The crunchy reggae beginning of “Sarah Anne” brings yet another sonic vibe to a love song for, you guessed it, his wife, that morphs into a sort of Grateful Dead lope. With the insistent strum of an acoustic guitar, “Windows” takes an unflinching look back on his life. The song’s repeated riff brings a terseness that’s palpable until it explodes with a driving solo that’s pure Anders. The opening title track borrows the lazy electric crawl common to Neil Young’s work with Crazy Horse as the singer seems frustrated because he can’t find a day of peace. He unplugs for “I’m Ready,” placing his yearning voice, somewhat similar to Joe Walsh’s, into the context of fight to leave his demons behind and move on with his life. Like the rest of these songs regardless of their less raucous attack, it’s imbued with a soulfulness, honesty and intensity that is pure and undeniable.
He may not have found that elusive peace he keeps searching for, but Anders Osborne has seldom seemed so vulnerable, emotional yet comfortable in his own skin as he is here.