Joan As Police Woman - Real Life
Review by Jack Foley
THE breathtaking vocals of Joan Wasser take listeners on a magical journey on Real Life, the dreamy debut album from Joan As Police Woman.
Wasser is already well-known and respected for her live and recorded work with artists such as Antony & The Johnsons, Nick Cave, Scissor Sisters and Rufus Wainwright (to name but a few), but now steps out into the spotlight to provide a delicious platform for her immense talents.
Allowing Wasser’s vocals to wash over you feels like some sort of musical massage, such is their ability to soothe. She has that rare ability to seduce with her voice alone, drawing favourable comparisons with the style of Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield and Chrissie Hynde.
Anyone who was mesmerised by the recent single, The Ride ought to know what to expect – it was a lazy, daydream of a single that expertly blended Joan’s sublime vocals with the music supplied by her band-mates, Rainy Orteca (bass) and Ben Perowsky (drums).
The Ride is nothing short of an amazing record – the sort that never fails to send a shiver down the spine once the journey begins. Wasser provides the ultimate chauffeur.
The track is undoubtedly the highlight of an album that still manages to produce some absolute gems. Primary among these is her duet with Antony (of Antony & The Johnsons) on I Defy, which sets some stark piano chords, lazy sax and a nice beat against the distinct vocal styles of the two performers. Dare I say, Antony has never sounded better, his aching style perfectly suited to words such as “can you hear me”, while Wasser really hammers home lyrics such as “I see the scars around your face, they never seem to hurt at all”.
It’s a punchy track – and certainly one of the more lively on an otherwise laidback album – but it’s well worth checking out.
Memorable, too, is another of the more upbeat tracks – Christobel – which really puts Orteca’s bass to the fore to lend it a more distinctly rock vibe. It provides evidence of how Wasser’s vocals can adapt to differing musical styles and she rises to the challenge impeccably, especially when stretching them over the chorus.
Final track We Don’t Own It rounds things off in style – Wasser’s vocals being set against a low-key, stop-start riff from Orteca’s bass with only minimal drums. It means that the record draws to a close with the focus firmly on the singer, leaving you to reflect on an experience of shimmering beauty.
As the name of it’s very best track suggests, this is an album that’s well worth taking a ride with. Please do allow Wasser’s vocals to hypnotise you.