Album Review: Joan As Police Woman – The Deep Field (2011 LP)

I was lucky enough to see Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman, live a few years ago and I was enamoured by her captivating performance. I knew only a handful of the songs that night, having listened only briefly to her first album Real Life. However, I was really there because I am a child of the Nineties and I knew Wasser had played in The Dambuilders and knew that she had been the girlfriend of Jeff Buckley.

The Nineties, however, are long dead and cold in the ground, and Joan Wasser has since produced some amazing music, and has an admirable list of past collaborators to her name as well; the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Antony Hegarty, to name just two. So I was keen to give the new effort from Joan as Police Woman a listen and am glad I did. The Deep Field is the third album of original songs from Joan as Police Woman, and it dances a trail of glory all over the preceding two albums.

The Deep Field erupts with the pounding and unexpectedly rocking first track, “Nervous”. Wasser tells me, without wasting any time, that she wants me to fall in love with her. It wouldn’t be hard. The story of the album is one of love, longing and humanity set to a soulful, 1970’s inspired soundtrack. There is a clear step away from the jazzy and mellow sounds of Joan as Police Woman’s previous albums and a move towards a funkier influence. The Deep Field shifts its angle a few times, from dancey, energetic numbers to gentle, mysterious piano. The folky “Flash” is lulling and eery and totally unexpected. The sexy “Chemmie” would definitely serve well in providing the right atmosphere for a night of seduction. This is hot and sensual music but also edging on comical in it’s channelling of seventies soul ghosts, as is the track “Human Condition” which melts, dripping with Barry White groove.

The album rounds off with “I Was Everyone” in turbulent, layered gospel grandeur, thrown in to add yet another facet to this amazing portrait Wasser has painted. Despite the variations in sound, the album is not a cut-and-paste job. There is still a clear coherency and flow to both the music and the lyrics, which are kindled into life with Wassers’ sultry vocals. Wasser is a singularly inspired and multi-dimensional musician and this shines through startlingly clear in The Deep Field.

Review Score: 9/10


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