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Joan Osborne – Songs of Bob Dylan

A fine singer illuminates the many surprising facets of Bob Dylan.

Joan Osborne in performance at the Café Carlyle (Photo credit: David Andrako)

Joan Osborne in performance at the Café Carlyle (Photo credit: David Andrako)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

Joan Osborne isn’t exactly glamorous, just damn good.  She’s a shoot-from-the-hip vocalist with a rich well of emotion to draw from.  There’s a reason she’s having such a great career:  her voice is rich and her interpretations of songs are honest and moving.

At the Café Carlyle, she is turning her talents to a program of the Songs of Bob Dylan, enchanting the generally conservative audience with Dylan’s incredible range.  She was immeasurably helped by Keith Cotton on keyboards and Jack Petruzzelli on guitar.  Both also served as back-up vocalists, pushing and pulling her along with humor and great musicianship.

Most people have difficulty imagining Bob Dylan as anything but the down-and-out troubadour singing for his supper in Greenwich Village nightspots in the early Sixties.  He is, in fact, an incredibly prolific, sophisticated writer and Ms. Osborne slid easily from his country/western tinged ballads (“Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You”) to his scathing, but clear-eyed philosophy of the world (“Gotta Serve Somebody”) to his tender love songs (“Forever Young”) and on to his Christian evangelical period (“Saved”).

Mr. Petruzzelli’s long guitar solo took “Love Sick” to an almost meditative height while Mr. Cotton’s organ-like solo on the solemn “Make You Feel My Love” helped Ms. Osborne find just the right colors for what was actually a sweet love song.

Keith Cotton on keyboard, Joan Osborne, and Jack Petruzzelli on guitar in performance at the Café Carlyle (Photo credit: David Andrako)

Keith Cotton on keyboard, Joan Osborne, and Jack Petruzzelli on guitar in performance at the Café Carlyle (Photo credit: David Andrako)

It was hard to keep from some good-natured foot stomping during the country tune, “Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood).”  She persuaded this staid audience to happily sing along on “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” and sway with the easygoing, bluesy “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

This was a rewarding evening that brought together topnotch singing and musicianship performing the works of a major, influential creative artist who changed the world as he commented on it.

Joan Osborne has the perfect instrument and instincts for Dylan’s work, making her show at the Café Carlyle more than just a chic night out, but a rewardingly satisfying experience.

Joan Osborne – Songs of Bob Dylan (March 8-18, 2016)

Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-744-1600 or visit http://www.rosewoodhotel.com/en/the-carlyle-new-york

For more information, visit http://www.joanosborne.com

Running time:  75 minutes with no intermission

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (172 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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