CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. - Anders Osborne's full beard is a disguise.
Karl Denson, who performed with Osborne in Lake Tahoe twice this year, spilled his little secret.
"He's Neil Young," Denson said.
A couple of songs on the new album, "Black Eye Galaxy," support Denson's claim. "Dancing in the Wind" clearly emulates Young's harmonica delivery and the opening of "When Will I See You Again" is instantly recognizable Crazy Horse grudge guitar.
Further investigation, however, proves the assertion false. That is according to Robert Walter, the co-headliner on Wednesday's showbill at the Crystal Bay Casino.
"I've seen him without the beard," Walter said. "He's not Neil Young."
While Osborne's style sounds a lot like Young's, so does his intensity, which also is comparable to that of Lindsey Buckingham, Bruce Springsteen or a young Mick Jagger.
"He rocks like that - like it's an animal - and there's something slightly scary about it," Denson said.
"Anders Osborne blows my mind," North Mississippi Allstars Luther Dickinson said in a press statement. "His guitar playing is so intense. He's my favorite guy out there these days."
Osborne's intensity includes a voracious touring schedule and he's been prolific in the studio ever since his 2010 album "American Patchwork," which opens with the molten "On the Road with Charlie Parker."
Osborne is Charlie Parker if the jazzman had lived to write about it.
Osborne is like Andy Dufresne in a flowing river after he crawled a quarter-mile through a Shawshank Prison sewage pipe: clean and on the other side.
Since "American Patchwork," Osborne has played in the Crown Room with his band, with Dickinson, Denson and pals at the Snowlive festival, with Tab Benoit's Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars and with Denson in a re-creation of the Rolling Stones album "Sticky Fingers." When interviewed by Lake Tahoe Action before those shows, Osborne politely refrained from answering questions about his addiction. However, he is candid in songs from "Black Eye Galaxy," an autobiographic rock and jam CD which comes closer to his live show than previous records.
From the title song: "I have counted all your stars, now there's nothing left."
"Mind of a Junkie" - "I've been living in the mind of a junkie, thinking my junkie thoughts. ... I need somebody to save me from my crazy mind."
"Black Tar" - "Black tar leave me along, can't you see I'm moving on."
Similar to the experience of one of his heroes, John Coltrane, Osborne agonizes about the time he squandered in his life and he is trying to make up for it by not wasting another minute.
Like Denson said, it's slightly scary.
And calling him Neil Young is an understatement.