Pretty Little Stranger

( 3 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Anyone familiar with Joan Osborne's exemplary body of work knows she's never been too far removed from the country world -- the Kentucky native has never tried to hide her Bluegrass State drawl, but she's never dug this deep into rustic and New Traditionalist-style country. Produced by Steve Buckingham (architect of Dolly Parton's bluegrass triumphs) and backed by a stellar lineup of Nashville-based virtuosos, Osborne delivers uniformly powerful performances on songs she penned (six in all) and on covers from the likes of Beth Neilsen Chapman, Kris Kristofferson, and others. A trio of Texas giants named Rodney Crowell, Roy Orbison and Will Jennings, whose melancholy ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Anyone familiar with Joan Osborne's exemplary body of work knows she's never been too far removed from the country world -- the Kentucky native has never tried to hide her Bluegrass State drawl, but she's never dug this deep into rustic and New Traditionalist-style country. Produced by Steve Buckingham (architect of Dolly Parton's bluegrass triumphs) and backed by a stellar lineup of Nashville-based virtuosos, Osborne delivers uniformly powerful performances on songs she penned (six in all) and on covers from the likes of Beth Neilsen Chapman, Kris Kristofferson, and others. A trio of Texas giants named Rodney Crowell, Roy Orbison and Will Jennings, whose melancholy beauty "When the Blue Hour Comes" inspires Osborne to one of her most nuanced, heartbreaking performances ever. But Osborne's own songs are as good as any here. She gets into a low-down, funky groove on "Who Divided," a thumping howl protesting love gone wrong; articulates both fury and fatalism with an eloquence worthy of Rosanne Cash in title track, a song rich in twang and foreboding atmosphere; and digs deep for a mesmerizing, folky confession "Shake That Devil." Her version of the Grateful Dead's "Brokedown Palace" traverses some rich gospel territory, and her countrypolitan treatment of Kristofferson's "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" evokes no one less than Patsy Cline. One of the great voices of her generation, Joan Osborne can sing anything; but if she wants to hang around country for awhile, so much the better for the music -- and sophisticated listeners.
All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Pretty Little Stranger is Joan Osborne's Vanguard Records debut; it is also her country and Americana record. She's cut soul and R&B, she's sung with Stevie Wonder, the Funk Brothers, the Grateful Dead and Phil Lesh & Friends, fronted the Holmes Brothers and she's produced their finest record to date, had one of the hugest hits of the '90s that has been a millstone around her neck ever since, and just dug into just about every area of American music. Country, given its steady high profile popularity in the current consciousness, seems like a logical step. Pretty Little Stranger was produced by veteran and Grammy winner Steve Buckingham. The song selection is terrific. Osborne wrote six of the album's songs, and she covers Kris Kristofferson's "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends," Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "Brokedown Palace," Patty Griffin's "What You Are," Beth Nielsen Chapman's and Harlan Howard's "Time Won't Tell," the Red Lane/Larry Henley number "'Til I Get It Right," and Rodney Crowell's "When the Blue Hour Comes," co-written with Roy Orbison and Will Jennings; Crowell guests on the track as a harmony vocalist. Other guests include Sonny Landreth, Alison Krauss, and Vince Gill. Those are the particulars. The laid-back approach Osborne takes on this set is radical, a shock to the system even. With that big, ringing, soulful, bluesy voice, she's chosen understatement in the face of the great trend in modern country toward female singers who express themselves in that way -- check Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, Gretchen Wilson, and Danielle Peck to name four. Osborne's instrument is a natural for the music, in theory at least. The record is not tailor-made for the CMT or GAC channels perhaps, or even country radio for that matter, but it sounds like there is another theory at work here. Osborne's showcasing her own songs on this record. Just as the late Lowell George's Thanks I'll Eat It Here was a singer's record, Osborne's Pretty Little Stranger is a songwriter's record. It's true that she may be too subtle in her approach on songs like the Griffin, Crowell, and Chapman/Howard cuts. She does a fine job of re-reading the Garcia-Hunter number because "Brokedown Palace" should have been a "real" country song in the first place. Her version of Kristofferson's classic "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends" has little of Brenda Lee's drama or Rita Coolidge's deadpan grace. What it does possess, however, is the matter-of-fact hangdog directness that the songwriter intended. While it remains to be seen what Nashville will do with Osborne's record, it hardly matters. The production techniques used by Buckingham are for posterity; in ten years, Pretty Little Stranger will sound as contemporary as it does right now. Osborne's less aggressive approach suits the material very well, even if there is less distinction between some of the songs than there has been on her previous recordings. There is one number that does dig into the singer and songwriter's garden of roots and branches, and that's the slippery "Who Decided." Its electric piano, backbeat strolling guitar, and big snare underscore Osborne's funky, soul strutting voice. Even if the refrain is closer to contemporary Nashville, the tune itself is gritty; bluesed-out and utterly real. She swings and swaggers in all the right places. When the Hammond B-3 kicks in, it's easy to hear Osborne's R&B roots shining through in the sultry darkness and the brokenness in the grain of her voice. This is the voice of want, pain and thwarted desire. She follows it up with the glorious "Holy Waters," a pure country song that brings her into the terrain of true greatness as a gifted songwriter. Ultimately, Pretty Little Stranger is very good indeed; it is still not the record this gifted vocalist and songwriter could make, but it's solid, bittersweet, and crafty. It's a winner that keeps its best secret for last: that most of the best songs on this little platter are Osborne's.
Entertainment Weekly - Beth Johnson
Terrific and timeless. (A-)
San Francisco Chronicle - Lee Hildebrand
"Pretty Little Stranger" presents the Kentucky-born vocalist using her glowing alto pipes to penetrate the emotional cores of a dozen country-imbued songs.

Terrific and timeless. (A-)
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/14/2006
  • Label: Vanguard Records
  • UPC: 015707981026
  • Catalog Number: 79810
  • Sales rank: 76,354

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Joan Osborne Primary Artist, Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony
Alison Krauss Vocal Harmony
Rodney Crowell Vocal Harmony
Steve Gibson Electric Guitar
Sonny Landreth Slide Guitar
Eddie Bayers Drums
Steve Buckingham Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Tambourine
Dan Dugmore Steel Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar
Paul Franklin Steel Guitar
Vince Gill Vocal Harmony
John Hobbs Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer
Carmella Ramsey Vocal Harmony
Michael Rhodes Bass
Dan Tyminski Vocal Harmony
Reese Wynans Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer
Charlie McCoy Vibes
Tim Lauer Accordion, Pump Organ
Bryan Sutton Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Bouzouki
Wes Hightower Vocal Harmony
Tania Hancheroff Vocal Harmony
Gordon Moat Piano
Technical Credits
Rodney Crowell Composer
Kris Kristofferson Composer
Jerry Garcia Composer
Roy Orbison Composer
Robert Hunter Composer
Larry Henley Composer
Steve Buckingham Producer
Neal Cappellino Engineer
Don Cobb Mastering
Tony Daigle Engineer
Patty Griffin Composer
Will Jennings Composer
Red Lane Composer
Marshall Morgan Engineer
Joan Osborne Composer
Georgette Cartwright Creative Services Coordinator
Eric Conn Mastering
Chip Matthews Digital Editing
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Joan Osborne’s “Pretty Little Stranger”

    Occasionally, if you follow an artist long enough, as a music fan you are blessed with a returning album that reminds you of what it is that you like about ‘your old friend.’ Joan’s newest album is like that for me. Often times, you can almost hear how life has come around full circle in the artist’s voice and lyrics, and this is definitely the case with “Pretty Little Stranger.” In song, Joan speaks to many of life’s experiences: hope and faith, heartbreak and healing, living and learning…like a song from her debut album “Relish,” she sings to every ‘one of us!’ This sultry, blues-meets country rock album is a follow up to Joan’s mid-nineties CD, “Relish,” remember this – ‘what if God was one of us.’ It has a catchy opener, the title track of the album, which has a good, going about your day sort of beat with expressive lyrics like ‘who will the next fool be?’ And it just keeps getting better from there. The CD is a twelve song collection featuring six original tunes written by Joan, including “Who Divided,” “Shake That Devil,” “After Jane,” and the title track “Pretty Little Stranger” – all of which have Joan’s characteristic soulful and smooth sound. But she also does some amazing covers and collaborations with other top Nashville artists on the album. For instance, Alison Krauss is featured on “Holy Waters” which makes “you [burn] up in hot breath” while you sense the “rivers rollin’ out of time.” Beautiful vocals and prayer-like lyrics on this one! I had once read where Joan was touring with the Grateful Dead (post-Jerry Garcia) and was delighted to hear her cover “Brokedown Palace.” She absolutely nails this tune, and I suspect Jerry Garcia smiles down on Joan from Rocker Heaven. Joan also sings Patty Griffin’s “What You Are,” which is probably the hook for me on this CD. “What do you wish you were? Do you wish you were the light of every star? Nobody knows but maybe that’s just what you are.” The bones of “Pretty Little Stranger” and its celestial essence will keep you hanging on – track by track – finding its soothing way into your heart! Joan soars with this album, and its soulful tunes will find its way into your heart too! This is fundamental Joan…no disappointment for buying this CD here!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Joan Osborne’s “Pretty Little Stranger”

    Occasionally, if you follow an artist long enough, as a music fan you are blessed with a returning album that reminds you of what it is that you like about ‘your old friend.’ Joan’s newest album is like that for me. Often times, you can almost hear how life has come around full circle in the artist’s voice and lyrics, and this is definitely the case with “Pretty Little Stranger.” In song, Joan speaks to many of life’s experiences: hope and faith, heartbreak and healing, living and learning…like a song from her debut album “Relish,” she sings to every ‘one of us!’ This sultry, blues-meets country rock album is a follow up to Joan’s mid-nineties CD, “Relish,” remember this – ‘what if God was one of us.’ It has a catchy opener, the title track of the album, which has a good, going about your day sort of beat with expressive lyrics like ‘who will the next fool be?’ And it just keeps getting better from there. The CD is a twelve song collection featuring six original tunes written by Joan, including “Who Divided,” “Shake That Devil,” “After Jane,” and the title track “Pretty Little Stranger” – all of which have Joan’s characteristic soulful and smooth sound. But she also does some amazing covers and collaborations with other top Nashville artists on the album. For instance, Alison Krauss is featured on “Holy Waters” which makes “you [burn] up in hot breath” while you sense the “rivers rollin’ out of time.” Beautiful vocals and prayer-like lyrics on this one! I had once read where Joan was touring with the Grateful Dead (post-Jerry Garcia) and was delighted to hear her cover “Brokedown Palace.” She absolutely nails this tune, and I suspect Jerry Garcia smiles down on Joan from Rocker Heaven. Joan also sings Patty Griffin’s “What You Are,” which is probably the hook for me on this CD. “What do you wish you were? Do you wish you were the light of every star? Nobody knows but maybe that’s just what you are.” The bones of “Pretty Little Stranger” and its celestial essence will keep you hanging on – track by track – finding its soothing way into your heart! Joan soars with this album, and its soulful tunes will find its way into your heart too! This is fundamental Joan…no disappointment for buying this CD here!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Joan breaks back through! Long deserved.

    OK- so I like Joan as a blues artist as that is my bag- but hey- this album is freaking awesome-its got 5 or 6 pure country tear jerkers that are amazing- her song writing is way under rated - and well Broke Down Palace- I am not worthy! Joan's voice is pure silk and velvet with a touch of garter belt man-most blues singers pipes are burnt by Joan's age (I saw her in 1992 at the venerable fire trap the Blues Bar off Bleeker and man did I get my world rocked), NOT JOAN baby. It makes lots of sense for her to branch back to country just like one of her mentors old Ray Charles (Spider web) did back in the 60s when his producers thought it would be a career ender. Country has got a bigger tent now and thanks to Joan it just got bigger- I think the best song her might be After Jane and I really liked Dead Roses-course I can not help but feel is a tribute to a time I remember well- honorable mentions to me are Shake that Devil and I think she is gonna sell a lot of albums to many a Red state brother- maybe even convert them to blues.. BP - Old Dead Head from MA...

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