Joan Osborne: Breakfast In Bed

All shine and polish, but no sex or sensuality.

Joan Osborne

Breakfast In Bed

Label: Time-Life
US Release Date: 2007-05-22
UK Release Date: Unavailable

It's been an exciting millennium for Joan Osborne and fans. In 2002, the singer-songwriter appeared in the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown and recorded a soul covers album called How Sweet It Is. Three years later she released One of Us, a Greatest Hit collection that lumped her big hit single together with the bulk of How Sweet It Is and sprayed it onto the wall to see what would stick. Later that same year, she also released a pretty nifty seasonal album, Christmas Means Love. And then last year, she recorded the rather excellent country album Pretty Little Stranger, a beautifully performed blend of original material and covers from the likes of the Grateful Dead, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson, and Beth Nielsen Chapman.

Clearly, Osborne is a singer in search of a style.

So where would she go next? Punk rock covers in a lounge style? Punked up classics from the world of easy-listening? A faithfully metallic Sabbaff tribute album? Well, no. Presented by that peerless arbiter of exceptional good taste in all things, Time-Life, Osborne's Breakfast in Bed is a return to the soul and R&B classics of the late '60s and early '70s, with a handful of original material thrown in for some sort of measure and writer's royalties

We could probably stop right here. You either are or are not the sort of person who buys Time-Life records. And if you are, then you certainly aren't going to care what a new fangled invention like the interweb has to say about your consumer choices. But still ... to put it in terms that Time-Life types will be comfortable with, if How Sweet It Is was Ally McBeal -- all silky smooth revisions of soul classic such as "I'll Be There" and "Think", then Breakfast In Bed is American Idol. A surprisingly excellent and still improving singer laying down a blueprint for all the fat girl singers to show off their overwhelmingly competent pipes while they get used to the fact that America is always going to prefer a thin white boy with a reedy voice to a big black girl with talent.

So, yes, Breakfast In Bed is overwhelmingly competent and yes, it includes Osborne's two live contributions to Standing in the Shadows of Motown, but so what? I don't need Osborne's Dusty Springfield impersonation when I already have Dusty in Memphis. And while I may be adding her relaxed and drama-free rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia" to my iPod, I certainly don't need her over-egged "Ain't No Sunshine". Similarly, I've never needed anything from the satanic Hall & Oates, so why on earth would I care about Osborne's cover of "Sara Smile"? And the only interesting thing I can find to say about the original songs here is that "Heart Of Stone" seems to pilfer part of its string arrangement from Portishead's "Glory Box".

The biggest problem is that Breakfast in Bed is all shine and polish, but no sex or sensuality. All polite strings, but nothing like enough bass or horns. This is music to stroke your chin to. Not your lover. If, however, you've forgotten how to dance, then Time/Life are prepared to knock you out both Breakfast in Bed and How Sweet It Is in one convenient package. And they'll probably be happy to let you preview future releases with absolutely no commitment necessary. Enjoy.




Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.


A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.


The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'The Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.