Joan Osborne captures moods of Dylan

Fans of Joan Osborne have long known she’s a fan of Bob Dylan. She included a cover of his “Man in the Long Black Coat” on her 1995 debut, “Relish,” which included the international hit “One of Us.”

But she’s not just a casual fan. She’s enough of a fan that she put together a show called “Joan Osborne Sings the Songs of Bob Dylan, which she performed at two-week residencies at New York City’s Café Carlyle in March 2016 and 2017.

She’s also taken that tribute on the road, including Sunday night’s show at the Payomet Performing Arts Center in North Truro. The 90-minute, 14-song concert served as a preview for Osborne’s “Songs of Bob Dylan” CD, which will be released Sept. 1.

The new disc might just as easily have been called “The Many Moods of Bob Dylan.” On “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” she was joking, scornful and mocking. On “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven,” she was wistful. On “Buckets of Rain,” she was soothing and flirtatious. On “Tangled Up in Blue,” she was reflective and resigned but also assertive.

One of the night’s highlights was “Masters of War,” (the oldest song in the set, which included tracks ranging from 1963 to 2001). She delivered Dylan’s scathing condemnation of the military-industrial complex with barely restrained anger. As she said afterward, “that’s a very intense song.”

Osborne can effectively cross the borders of rock, R&B, soul and jazz, as she showed throughout the night, which ended with an almost mournful rendition of “One of Us.” She was helped quite ably by Kevin Bents on piano and organ and Andrew Carilllo on acoustic and electric guitar.

The trio changed the arrangements and the tempo of most of the songs, especially the better-known ones. She made the case for that in introducing a slowed-down jazz-blues version of “Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35.” One of Dylan’s biggest hits (No. 2 on the Billboard charts), the “everybody must get stoned” song is “so familiar that it gives us license to change it,” she said.

My lovely companion asked if I thought she was messing with it too much. My quick answer was, no. Longer answer: What would be the point of doing a tribute like this and not taking the songs in a new direction?

Among the performers who made stand-out versions of Dylan covers are Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, the Byrds and George Harrison. Osborne belongs on that list.

The show included nine songs from the new CD and four Dylan songs that aren’t on the new release, giving Osborne and Dylan fans reason to hope there may be a volume two down the road.

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