Joan Osborne Righteous Love (Interscope)

Righteous Love (Interscope)

Record Reviews

Joan Osborne

Righteous Love (Interscope)

"Can you see me rising since your disappearance? Safe to say that I've regained myself." One would hope so, Joan honey, you're the one's been gone five ... long ... years. One of the most influential female singers of the Nineties, Osborne opens the long-awaited followup to 1995's ultra-platinum powerhouse Relish, which yielded titanium singles "St. Teresa," "Right Hand Man," "Spider Web" and the commercially crucified "One of Us," with announcement of her return. "Sleeping like a baby," continues that familiar, full-figured voice, "still I wonder maybe if we'll ever meet up somewhere else." Like maybe every radio station from here to Uzbekistan? From that opening incantation, "Running Out of Time," through the raw-boned title song and blue-eyed soul & roll groove of "Safety in Numbers," Osborne rocks back and forth like a seasoned classic rocker. Remember those Janis Joplin comparisons? Snake charmer "If I Was Your Man" and destined radio knockout "Baby Love" can't offset a closing trio of clunkers in "Hurricane" (which dies somewhere over the gulf of underwritten, oversung songs), "Poison Apples" (not about Fiona, unfortunately), and the demo-quality coda "Make You Feel My Love." A song best left buried with Nixon, oil embargos, and polyester, Gary Wright's "Love Is Alive" (it was Dylan on the last LP), doesn't help matters. Righteous Love won't be devoured with the same Relish as her debut, but then as St. Joan versifies on "Running Out of Time," "you'll get in a while."

**

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