tue 23/07/2024

CD: Joan As Police Woman - The Deep Field | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Joan As Police Woman - The Deep Field

CD: Joan As Police Woman - The Deep Field

Erstwhile torch singer cheers up and gets funky

Joan Wasser: Creating a tune fondue

There’s a story doing the rounds that, while good, Joan Wasser’s latest fails to hit the highs of her other albums as Police Woman. Don’t believe it; it’s pure snobbery. In a world of MP3s this is a gorgeous warm album that will sound forever vinyl. When first she ditched her violin in favour of becoming a singer-songwriter, Wasser claimed she wanted to create the sound of old Al Green records. Instead, she gave us fragile torch songs that sounded like PJ Harvey and Cat Power learning songwriting from Laurie Anderson. Here, finally, however, is the fruit of that earlier ambition.

It is not an ersatz sound, nor is it a John Legend-style homage. It is a sound entirely of her own making, with every rich organ line balanced by rock guitar. And then there’s the voice, as soulful as a New Orleans menu. Things don’t start well, however, with half a minute of avant-garde sounds, and there’s also an unremarkable patch in the middle. The rest, however, deserves to place her top of the pile of alternative divas. “Nervous”, probably the most rock-orientated song, cascades melodies over one another like a tune fondue. “The Magic”, a filthy, uplifting funk shuffle, sounds as if it was beamed in from the Seventies.

And it goes on. You can take your pick which tortured African American singer to compare “The Action Man” to, while “Chemmie” sounds like Prince at the top of his game. Only the lacklustre “Flash” and “Human Condition” take things off the boil. What’s it all about?Apparently each of the songs is a spin on Wasser’s new philosophy of positivity, discovered as she turned 40. There's joy in new relationships ("Chemmie"), and acceptance in being yourself ("The Magic"/"Flash"). Halfway through the album she tells us that "good living requires smiling at strangers". Self-help has never been so much fun.

Watch a video of Joan as Police Woman's new single, "The Magic", below

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