Mike Osborn – In The Dog House | Album Review

mikeosborncdMike Osborn – In The Dog House

JE Gagne Records MOB-CD-002

11 songs – 45 minutes


Illinois-born, California-raised Mike Osborn delivers an interesting mix of blues, rock and country on this album, his second release since rejoining the music industry in his 40s after taking time out to raise his children as a single parent.

Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Osborn’s previous CD, Fire & Fury, climbed high on the roots radio playlists. Like that effort, he’s in full command here, displaying soulful techniques on the six-string while delivering powerful, distinctive vocals.

Osborn turned to Grammy-winning producer Alan Mirikitani to direct this session. Mirikitani and partner Dennis Walker wrote most of the material, with Mike adding three originals. He’s joined in the studio by an interesting alignment of musicians not normally associated with the blues, but who work together fluidly. They include Johnny Griparic, the Swedish bass player who’s teamed with Slash and BB Chung King & the Buddhaheads; Lee Spath, the drummer who’s done service behind Rod Stewart and Robert Cray; and Teddy Andreadis, the keyboard player who’s assisted both Guns ‘n’ Roses and Carole King. Former Warren Zevon bandmate Randy Mitchell also makes a guest appearance on guitar.

The straight-ahead blues rocker “Love Vs. Ego” kicks off the album, with a well-modulated guitar line and the realization that the former always wins the war. Osborn’s vocals are crisp and dynamic with the slightest growl, his six-string stylings driving and clean, but not overly flashy. A single guitar riff powers “Company Graveyard” as the singer announces his intention to go out on his own rather than work himself to death in a day job.

The mood brightens and attack lightens dramatically for “Lovin’ Time.” But the romance doesn’t last long. “Cold Man Cold” sings the sorrow of dealing with a woman who’s taken off with the TV as well as her man’s booze. The contrast between the two songs carries forward to the next, with Osborn contending that being in love is like being trapped between “Fire & Gasoline.” The heat continues for “Tied Up,” in which the singer’s “heart’s tied up in chains,” the lyrics are chockfull of 50 Shades Of Grey imagery and Mike’s guitar sears during a mid-song break.

“Cheap Women” is a country-rock tribute to easy ladies in smoky bars with cheap guitars, while the bluesy “Veteran’s Song” delivers a smooth tip-of-the-hat to those folks who “cannot tell the stories to those they love/For fear they’ll be outcast and alone/The stories stay inside and gnaw them to the bone.” The funky “Satan & St. Paul,” written by John Fulbright, is an allegorical look at a painful love affair in which the storyteller’s consumed by the lies he tells himself, before “Jump In Your Fire,” in which the singer’s all set to plunge into romance. The instrumental title song, “In The Dog House,” concludes the set.

Passionate and sincere throughout. If your tastes run to the rock side of blues, you’ll enjoy this one. Available though all of the major online outlets, Osborn delivers his message effortlessly, and it comes through loud and clear.

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