Release Date: Feb 9, 2018
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Monumental feelings subtly rendered are Joan Wasser's soulful métier. She veered off-piste on 2014's The Classic and 2016's Benjamin Lazar Davis collaboration Let It Be You, both commendable experiments that struggled with patchy execution. But her sixth solo set steers her back to what she's best at: exquisite, tenderly fraught torch-soul songs of compulsion and regret, where the lights are dimmed, the feelings run deep and the hushed elasticity of her voice commands close attention.
Using her extensive music vocabulary, Wasser - aka Joan As Police Woman - calls upon the great Leonard Cohen for the track "Silence" - "and I'm told that wounds are where the light gets in" referencing his infamous lyric to inform her own mantra for dealing with the pains of devotion. Wasser also draws from her musical contemporaries, employing a new creative process in the writing of her latest release, "manipulating (drummer) Parker Kindred's live beats as templates for new songs. " Starting from her band mates' drum beats as a basis for tracks, it's clear that Wasser is a collaborator at heart, utilising the people around her to help fathom greater things.
Joan Wasser's last solo record under her moniker Joan As Police Woman, 2014's The Classic, took a side-step into a jukebox of varying styles but mainly cherry-picked from vintage soul with a touch of R&B and doo-wop. Meanwhile, her album Let It Be You alongside Benjamin Lazar Davis drew on dark synthpop and jittery guitar rhythms. Both albums represented a departure from the dimly-lit meditations that characterised her debut Real Life and To Survive.
The sheer range of projects Joan Wasser has been involved with since studying at Boston University in the early 1990s bears testament to her musical vision. Having started out playing violin in the city's symphony orchestra, she was also a member of several rock bands in a period during which she also dated the late, great Jeff Buckley. By 2002 she was recording her own songs under the name Joan As Police Woman, and has gone on to release five studio albums, while at the same time working as a violinist for hire with artists as diverse as Sheryl Crow, Rufus Wainwright and Antony And The Johnsons.