Album review: Lee Harvey Osmond ‘Beautiful Scars’ arresting, complex, beautiful

First, it has to be said that Blackie And The Rodeo Kings should be considered royalty in their native Canada. Colin Linden, Tom Wilson, and Stephen Fearing possess more artistic gifts than any trio should have a right to. So, it’s no surprise that Wilson’s alter-ego Lee Harvey Osmond lives up to both the moniker and his immense talents on “Beautiful Scars.”

Lee-Harvey-Osmond-Beautiful-Scars-Album-Cover-300x300A monster of a songwriter and performer, Wilson’s subtle extravaganzas contain elements in both lyrics and groove that push and pull like adverse forces. The mere thought of “Shake the Hand” elicits hospitality, but when it entails “my hand that shook the earth,” darkness reigns.

Wilson’s voice echoes, and the music shakes like a Shaman rattling bones. Recently, at age 55, Wilson discovered his aunt is his mother, and that he isn’t Irish, but American Mohawk. That’ll make a guy write some shit. Although, Wilson swears he doesn’t know where his inspirations come from, which is astounding.

“Oh the Gods” sashays dangerously on slow burn, the plea for salvation almost expected not to be heard. By virtue of the sins, possibly? The band assembled is full, and plays penetratingly. Wilson’s voice and acoustic guitar, the harmonies by Andrea Ramolo, the vibraphone, pedal steel, sound effects, and rhythmic bends and blends, all magnetize like something else altogether.

“Loser without Your Love,” with its frankness, honking reeds, and full-on jazzy countenance, makes an enduring impression. Hushed Spanish-Western noir tones in “Hey, Hey, Hey” contrast with the simple, heartland delivery of “Dreams Come and Go.” Those dichotomies, and all the others, belong on the same album. As produced by the Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins, what Wilson calls acid-folk comes off as arresting adventure, complex but very, very beautiful.

-Tom Clarke

  • Lee Harvey Osmond
    Beautiful Scars

    Label: Latent Recordings
    Release: March 25, 2016
    Score: 89 out of  a possible 100

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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