Joan Osborne's eighth studio album, the recently released Love and Hate, is one of the most personally-charged, creatively ambitious efforts of her two-decades-plus recording career. The collection of new studio recordings – with Osborne as a co-writer on every song – is her most intimate record to date and is receiving critical acclaim. The NY Daily News expressed, "She treats love and hate not as distinct forces but as evil allies, conspiring against hapless humans." RollingStone.com added, "There's a substance and depth here that is not easily achieved, and I think Osborne is getting more interesting with time." Osborne co-produced Love and Hate with Jack Petruzzelli (Patti Smith, Rufus Wainwright)—with whom she also recorded 2012's Bring It On Home, which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Blues Album category.
While Osborne has already earned a reputation as both a commanding, passionate performer and a frank, emotionally evocative songwriter, her soulful songcraft reaches a new level of musical and lyrical resonance on Love and Hate. Such insightful, emotionally complex new compositions as "Where We Start," "Work On Me," "Kitten's Got Claws," "Keep It Underground" and the pointed title track survey some of the more complicated terrain of romantic relationships, in a manner that's rarely been attempted in popular music, while the album's intimate, stripped-down sound marks a stylistic departure from the gritty blues-based rock for which Osborne is best known. Love and Hate features Osborne's sublimely expressive vocals and Petruzzelli's stellar guitar work, as well as instrumental contributions from Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess, and backup vocals by Gail Ann Dorsey, Catherine Russell and Ollabelle member Amy Helm.
"I feel like each song on this album talks about a different aspect of love," she says. "Love isn't just one thing; it encompasses faith, passion, power struggles, humor, anguish, spirituality, lust, anger, everything on that spectrum. The people we love can bring out the very best and the absolute worst in us, because the leap that you make in trusting another person makes you vulnerable. When the endorphin rush of falling in love stops, that's when the difficult work comes in. So I tried to come up with songs that were about different aspects of this continuum."
Osborne's 1995 multi-platinum breakthrough album Relish included her Number One single "One of Us." That song, along with a well-received run on 1997's inaugural Lilith Fair tour, introduced her to a wide audience. But Osborne quickly made it clear that she was more interested in musical integrity and creative longevity than transient pop success, and she made that point repeatedly with such subsequent albums as 2000's Righteous Love, 2002's How Sweet It Is, 2005's Christmas Means Love, 2006's Pretty Little Stranger, 2007's Breakfast in Bed, 2008's Little Wild One and 2012's Bring It On Home.
Osborne's talents have also made her a sought-after collaborator and guest performer. She joined forces with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead when they regrouped to tour in 2003 as The Dead, sang with Motown's legendary Funk Brothers in the acclaimed 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and produced two albums for the great blues trio the Holmes Brothers. She's shared stages with a wide range of performers, including Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Taj Mahal, Luciano Pavarotti and the Chieftains. More recently, Osborne has toured and recorded as a member of Trigger Hippy, which also includes rising Americana star Jackie Greene and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman.