Joan Osborne How Sweet It Is

One of the sweetest surprises of the recent Standing in the Shadows of Motown documentary, Joan Osborne has an oversized, soulful gift. Having graduated from the pop success of her ’95 album Relish ("One of Us”) she has matured beyond one-hit-wonder to becoming a passionate chronicler of roots and rhythm & blues, adding an authentic gospel twist to the proceedings. Her turn covering "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” on Motown underlined her total authenticity as it demonstrated the depth of her spirituality and, at the same time, her sensuality. This release tours through modern classics as only Osborne could hope to: Aretha’s "Think,” Dave Mason’s "Only You Know and I Know,” Edwin Starr’s "War,” Sly’s "Everybody Is a Star.” Each thoughtfully retooled and re-injected with heartfelt emotion and utter respect for the original. Tackling Jimi’s "Axis: Bold as Love” may sound like a one-way bombing mission but Osborne returns successfully, triumphant, raising the song to new heights and reinterpreting it for a new generation. A surprisingly poignant release. (Womanly Hips)