The true talent of a musician cannot always been seen, heard or felt from his current work. To really measure that depth, one must look at an artist’s path. To judge where he is going, understanding where that artist has been can be quite telling. Having successfully battled his drug and alcohol demons, Anders Osborne is a new man in many ways. Signed to Alligator Records earlier this year, Anders has recently released his tenth album, “American Patchwork.” The name of the CD itself tells Anders’ story. “I use the writing process to talk about things musically, to get all kinds of emotions out. That way, it heals me. It puts me back together,” shares Anders. Not only is Anders a very talented musician, but he is a very complicated and thought-provoked man. Speaking to his life as a musician, Anders likens his “job” to anyone else’s job. “[B]eing an artist is the same as being . . . a carpenter. It’s the role you fill in society. To have a civilization, you have to find a place in it. Once you find that place and you own that craft, that God-given gift to the best of your ability so that you’re useful to the rest of society. So other people can stand looking at you!”
Anders began his foray into music at six years old. “We had a pump organ at the house. I would sit and kind of compose little musical lines on that, evoke certain emotions from myself. I got a guitar at 8, and I played my dad’s drums for a while when I was 12, 13, 14, 15, together with the guitar, and I played in different bands. Specifically, I would say 8 or 9 when I kicked it up a notch. . . .” It was at that time that Anders discovered the “open D note” method of tuning his guitar, and his love for the guitar over all other instruments materialized. He does, however, still use the piano, as well as guitar, when he is composing new material. Given his many talents and different sounds that he produces on “American Patchwork,” Anders is the type of artist who proves that talent is a gift. He doesn’t “force” songs or feel compelled to do anything in his own time, though he does spend time with his instruments every day. “I go through periods of very, very active writing. . . . I’ll sit down in my writing room almost every day and play a little piano, strum on the guitars, and just kind of feel my instruments, almost on a daily basis. . . . I don’t have a system with how my songwriting happens. . . . It always changes. I don’t have any discipline.” Arguably, Anders’ talent doesn’t require discipline; it must just be allowed to “be.”
On “American Patchwork,” Anders shares the worst of himself and the best of himself, making Anders very “real” in every sense of the word. Nothing more fully articulates some of the worst times in Anders’ life than “Echoes Of My Sins” while “Got Your Heart,” a testament to the life and love he has shared with his wife, reflects the best. “[L]yrically, it’s just a feel-good thing about me and my wife, getting through, overcoming, and succeeding in our marriage together.” Talking with Anders displays how allowing things to happen in their own time best serves everyone, regardless of any paths previously taken in life. He and Alligator Records contemplated working together in the past, but Anders shares that he “. . . wasn’t ready to put the work in. . . . Bruce and the whole staff there showed so much enthusiasm and so much love for what they heard, and it was inspiring to me and my manager too to just kind of make that work. It was one of those things where it was time to work together.” Again, Anders firmly believes in allowing things to happen naturally, and he has benefitted from his philosophy. “I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. I think things are more lined up spiritually for me, naturally, physically, just everything. I’m a lot more joyful. I have a lot of good people around me that makes it worth putting in the effort.”
Anders’ joy is evident throughout every song on “American Patchwork.” That joy will be on display this-coming Wednesday, June 16 when Anders celebrates the release of his CD at Smith’s Olde Bar. Advance tickets are $12 and at the door, $15. Doors are at 8:00 p.m., and Atlanta area band Deep Blue Sun provides the opening set. Several years have passed since Anders last visited Atlanta, and fans of emotional, thoughtful lyrics and unbelievable guitar mastery don’t want to miss this one. It is truly rare when an artist shares as much of himself as does Anders. This show promises that and more. In a time and place where so many want to hide their true selves, Anders Osborne is, cliché aside, a breath of fresh air. Don’t miss his visit to Atlanta; it may be a while before the opportunity arises again to see him live. “American Patchwork” represents the rebirth of a man’s soul. Witness the rebirth at Smith’s on Wednesday, June 16.