MIKE OSBORN In The Dog House.
Je Gagne Records.
From the opening notes of Love Vs. Ego, I somehow knew I was going to enjoy this CD. Mike Osborn is an artist I’ve never heard before, and not to be confused with the Michael Osborn who played and toured with John Lee Hooker in the 80’s. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, he is a capable guitarist with a deep soulful passion for his music and a voice that truly suits his style, plus, it’s all very danceable. His music is very Blues Rock based, but it possesses hints of numerous other genres. Not surprising really as he began by playing rockabilly, but then his musical journey took him through metal, religion and Blues prior to having a sabbatical in the 90’s, in order to bring up his children, returning to the Blues in 2006. Interestingly, the majority of songs here are written by his producer, Alan Mirikitani, with only three by Osborn himself. Opening with the aforementioned Love Vs. Ego, an Osborn original, this stomping mid tempo song, played with very sharp, clean guitar, is augmented with warm Hammond sounding keyboards. A Hooker-like boogie track follows, Company Graveyard, complete with rasping guitar and gritty vocal. Lovin’ Time is a much lighter rocking song which I see filling the dance floor with its easy bobbing beat. The bass here is a joy to follow, set well back in the mix, it is never the less a key component of the overall sound. Cold Man Cold changes the feel yet again. This track swaggers with distorted guitar, wah-wah pedal and an edge to the Bluesy guitar riffs. Cheap Women is an out and out Rock and Roller, its subject being worthy of the musical style, namely cheap women, whisky and guitars. On first hearing Veterans Song, I could have sworn it was Mark Knopfler on guitar. An extremely Dire Straits sounding rocker. This is a good album and my favourite is Tied Up, a real down and dirty slow Blues with wailing, pleading guitar and vocals that are very SRV. Osborn’s guitar is on fire here and his vocals at their grittiest.