Joan Osborne

Righteous Love

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Five years after scoring with the mega hit "One of Us" and becoming the topic of more than a few religious conservatives' tirades, Joan Osborne returns with Righteous Love, sporting a more polished feel than on her debut, Relish. Producer Mitchell Froom brings along a few of his Los Lobos/Latin Playboys pals (Steve Berlin, Louie Perez) and adds some taut muscle to Osborne's songs, but at times comes close to overshadowing her work. Mitchell ropes in the loud blues and soul leanings that made her previous album so much fun, and the singer herself emotes in a much more restrained pop vein. An awkward cover of Gary Wright's "Love Is Alive" seems like a bit of a misstep, and Osborne manages to squeeze the last remaining bits of emotion out of Bob Dylan's " To Make You Feel My Love," a tune that even Billy Joel or Garth Brooks' adult-contemporary stabs couldn't ruin. Her reading is by far the best of the three. Don't expect a blockbuster hit on the level of "One of Us," but Righteous Love, for all its woes, holds enough treasures of its own.

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