Pop Albums: Anders Osborne Which Way to Here Okeh FFM 481689 2

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The Independent Culture
It is something of a golden era for slide-guitar, with the likes of Rainer Ptacek and Sonny Landreth taking the instrument into new realms. With this third album - his first for a major outlet - ex-patriate Swede Anders Osborne adds his own name to the list of young slide dervishes, offering on tracks such as "Pleasin' You" and "Blame it on a Few" big, fat slices of country funk which cast him as the Lowell George of his own Little Feat.

As a songwriter, however, Osborne is passable at best, with none of the surreal energy which marked George's compositions out from his peers. He also spends too much time on the album imitating New Orleans neighbours such as The Neville Brothers ("Brother, Brother") and Dr John (the voodoo gospel groove of "Nothin' On") with an efficiency that precludes too deep an involvement.

Also, like many a peripatetic minstrel (Osborne spent his teens and twenties hitching around the world), he bulks out Which Way To Here with far too many home-sick road songs. It's a chicken and egg situation, I suppose - why keep wandering if it hurts so much? Or does he need the hurt for new material? If so, he needs to find a new pain.

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