Anders Osborne unexpectedly released a stellar new album, Flower Box, and listening to it is like finding money… you didn’t know it was coming, but your world is a happier place for its arrival. Dripping in southern blues and fuzz box guitars, Osborne and his band hit all the right notes, even if they take their time getting there. With multiple songs well over the five and six minute mark, Osborne stretches the playing field and fills the space with wise words and stellar fretwork. He accompanies his kinetic playing style with a gritty voice that resonates with the emotional clarity and wisdom of someone who has won and lost many a battle in the wee hours of the morning, alone in the dark.
Lyrically Osborne has always tackled subjects close to his heart, and his passion has helped him connect with his audience on a truly personal level. When he sings of his hopes, dreams and failings listeners don’t just relate, they feel his words as if they spoke them themselves while his guitar jangles and hums with the unconscious skill of uncountable hours of being held close to heart. When combined his skills make him a force not to be denied, and on his newest released he charges forward with the intensity of a man on a mission.
Stream the album on Spotify below, and follow along with the review below!
Osborne doesn’t waste even a millisecond of the listener’s time, opening with a squeal of his trademark guitar tone, distorted, grainy and fiercely in your face. More a battle cry than a song, “Different Drum” is a declaration of intent for himself; a seven minute reminder to the world about the dangers of following the herd. When you stand up on a pedestal and try and share thoughts, you can very easily open yourself up to criticism, and on the next track, “Fool’s Gold,” Osborne tackles that subject head on. He looks back on the things he said as a younger man, the way he behaved and why. Admitting your faults is a step on a path to enlightenment. Musically, Osborne pulls off an impressive feat by somehow echoing Jimi Hendrix on the mic and the guitar without seeming derivative or worse, overly fawning. Bassist Carl Dufrene provides perfect counter-point to Osborne, the focused solidity of his tone providing welcome contrast to the splashy guitar froth churned up by Osborne.
Drummer Brady Blade does impressive work throughout the album. On the title track, “Flower Box.” he keeps it simple and uncluttered, so the more gentle and playful elements of the song can shine, before returning to his crisper and more solid striking on “Hurt.” The snap of each tom and cymbal by Blade on “Hurt” is a sharp reminder of the physicality of abuse to match the tale being told of an abuse survivor and the joy of breaking free. On “St. John,” the tone turns again confessional, as Osborne expresses both his joy in his love and his fears and hopes that he will manage to be around for her. Picking up the pace, sonically and aspiration wise, “Born” is a proclamation of love’s eternal future set to a bouncy island beat and a a riff that just feels like a smile incarnate.
After an epic nine minute journey on “Old Country,” Osborne closes out the song with a playful reminder about the importance of being and staying “Strong.” Like his other moments of sharing incites he manages to take as inoffensive approach to his assurances, taking care to support and uplift lyrically. Anders Osborne shows of the rich diversity of his skilfully honed talents on Flower Box with just the right mix of restraint and emotion.
With his words, Osborne manages to paint evocative pictures while his from-the-heart style of guitar playing merged with his blues based technique that enable him to share a message of hope, humility and love. Along with his band, Osborne’s Flower Box is a handcrafted album of distilled positive reinforcement, which will still rock out with spirit and fire that will inspire any who take these songs to heart. The album is like Osborne himself, a gift to the world.