Joan as Policewoman - The Deep Field - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Joan as Policewoman - The Deep Field

by Mark Young Rating:8 Release Date:2011-01-24

US singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Joan Wasser, doing business under the moniker Joan as Policewoman, serves up a funky dose of sassy soul, tempered by moments of piercingly honest poignancy, on fourth album The Deep Field. She's often described as a 'torch singer' in music journals because her early songs concentrated on loves lost or ones that could never be. This is perhaps to be expected, given previous events in Joan's life - her boyfriend of three years drowned in 1997 (Jeff Buckley, none other, but that's not the point) and she also cites the loss of her mother as an influence on her work. Now, though, there's a lot more than heartache alone.

For the most part, Wasser, with a foxy snap in her voice, presents herself as an assured woman that's comfortable enough in her skin to call the shots. Now in her 41st year, she sings with a maturity and composure that smacks of panache. The vibe very much flicks between 'this is my wavelength, why aren't you on it?' and 'here's a little thing I've found out', rather than recriminations of invisible foes. She delivers 'Action Man' with a playful wink and she bares her teeth on 'Run for Love', backed by a satisfyingly snarling distorted guitar line. She gives her voice plenty of opportunity to effortlessly break free into sweet song-bird melodies before reining it back in with soulful savoir-faire. She's at her most alluring on 'Chemmie'.

For the moments of reflection, 'Flash' is a dark, brooding insight into facing up to darkness full on and, while testifying to much self reconciliation like the rest of the album, 'Forever and a Year' is a legacy of Joan's earlier work and could possibly be its peak. It's a truly beautiful and moving piece of music which serves to remind of the enduring vulnerability that that is etched onto the soul by the demons in life which cannot, and should not, be exorcised.

With a musical career that started with the violin pre-teens and has seen her collaborate with the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Elton John and Antony and the Johnsons, she's in no need of accreditation. Still, though, The Deep Field should now go down as her most accomplished album.

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