Anders Osborne wanted his new album Buddha and the Blues to be “a little breezier” than some of his other work, which hews towards the emotionally heavy. And those peaceful breezes certainly blow steady on the track “Traveling With Friends,” premiering exclusively below.
The song was written in St. Thomas, where Osborne and his family turned a couple of shows into a vacation. “We had this amazing rental property we lucked into; It didn’t look like much when we rented it, but when we get there it’s right on top of this mountain, looking out over the ocean,” Osborne tells Billboard. “I was sitting up there and I had this perspective of how it’s amazing that we’re still here — that’s one of the lines in there. I felt amazed that through all the stuff that happens, most of my friends and acquaintances, we’re still here, we’re still doing our thing. I just felt a lot of gratitude for that and put it into the song.”
The Buddha and the Blues title, in fact, references the bonhomie Osborne wanted to put forth on the album’s 10-track set, which comes out April 26 and was recorded with in Ojai, Calif. with producer Chad Cromwell and an all-star group of players that included guitarist Waddy Wachtel, keyboardist Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers and bassist Bob Glaub. Serenity may not be a prevailing state of mind in the world these days, or for Osborne himself, but the album determinedly takes an antidote.
“Buddha and the Blues was the working title from the beginning, so I kind of knew what I was going for,” the Swedish-born singer-songwriter. “I keep looking forward, living with anxiety, worrying about this and that. I think what happened was I was going inward and realizing you make your own choice every day. If you want to gravitate towards bad news, towards things internally that make me not like myself, that’s a choice. So this is hopefully the first attempt to get out of that and not let it creep into this record too much.”
Osborne will celebrate the album’s release at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and he’ll be playing more dates sporadically throughout the year. Buddha and the Blues also coincides with the 30th anniversary of Osborne’s debut album, Doin’ Fine. And while he’s not planning a formal celebration, Osborne does acknowledge that time has given him a more peaceful perspective as well.
“I enjoy my age,” he says. “There were a couple of moments last year when I was frustrated over things and I wanted things to be different or whatever, and my wife said, ‘What are you talking about? You’ve already made it. You made it years ago. Why don’t you try to enjoy it?’ And she’s so right. You forget at a certain point that you’ve done it, you’ve made it in your job, you’re making a living doing it and everything’s fine. So, yeah, I’m extremely grateful, and I think the main thing is to keep it interesting and find motivation. You can’t just repeat all the time. That would kill my buzz, definitely.”