Joan Osborne - Pretty Little Stranger

Joan Osborne
Pretty Little Stranger


First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2007, Volume 14, #1

Written by John Metzger


Joan Osborne has not had an easy time since she issued her mega-selling single One of Us in 1995. She cannot, however, assume all of the blame for her floundering career. Instead of capitalizing upon her success by quickly following her breakthrough outing with a new recording, her third endeavor Righteous Love was delayed for five years because her label wouldnít release it. Consequently, Osborne found herself poised at the brink of irrelevancy, and she nearly was a forgotten entity by the time she had secured a contract with another company.

In her own way, though, Osborne managed to persevere, despite the challenges she faced. She developed her own niche by establishing a well-received presence on the Lilith Fair circuit. She also played a prominent role in a post-Jerry Garcia rendition of the Grateful Dead, and her 2002 set How Sweet It Is featured her interpretations of many classic rock and soul songs.

In creating her latest outing Pretty Little Stranger, Osborne, once again, has switched direction. This time, she opted to utilize a country-oriented framework for her material. Unfortunately, although this should be a natural progression from her prior endeavors, the album lacks inspiration, and it sounds terribly bland. Although her vocals are in fine form, the arrangements that she employs are so tastefully generic that they completely undermine the proceedings.

The cover songs on Pretty Little Stranger ó which include the Grateful Deadís Brokedown Palace, Patty Griffinís What You Are, and Kris Kristoffersonís Please Donít Tell Me How the Story Ends ó are utterly lifeless, and while Osborne provides more of a spark to her original compositions, they also have a tendency to meander along in a somnambulant fashion. Even the guest appearances by Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, and Rodney Crowell donít help, though Sonny Landreth does succeed in injecting some fire into Dead Roses. Regardless, Pretty Little Stranger is an instantly forgettable affair that makes it plainer than ever that Osborne is on the verge of being remembered as nothing more than a one-hit wonder. starstar


Of Further Interest...

Emmylou Harris - The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches & Highways

Joni Mitchell - Dreamland

Natalie Merchant - Retrospective, 1995-2000


Pretty Little Stranger is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2007 The Music Box