Recently I attended performances from two artists whose music I had never taken much of an interest in - Joan Osborne (Strathmore) and Paula Cole (last night at The Barns). After exiting the venue following their respective encores, it furthered my notion of how inaccurately and incongruously radio singles can often portray very talented musicians. Both women had some serious chops, and projected vocal talents far superior to their radio singles from the 90s, which are, incidentally, "One of Us", "I Don't Wanna Wait" and "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone".
Osborne played the majority of her set with the Holmes Brothers, and powered through raw, bluesy originals and some pretty recognizable covers by the Dead (whom she toured with in 2003), Otis Redding, and Sly & The Family Stone. The majority of her performance selections showcased tremendous range and versatility that I was completely unaware of, mostly because I had only taken the time to listen to what pop radio spoon fed me with 1995s "One of Us".
Paula Cole came off in the same light as Osborne. She of course performed her two pop-friendly singles, but she really shined while performing new cuts off her forthcoming album. The soulful "Waiting on a Miracle", a song that she described as a healing mechanism during her recent divorce, was particularly excellent, featuring punctuated piano licks a la Tori Amos, and driving blues riffs from her longtime guitarist.
Basically, this is part of my continuing plea for folks to focus on the entirety of an artist's catalogue, not just their hit on a Billboard chart. There is ALWAYS more than meets the eye. Err...ear.