Joan as Police Woman - The Deep Field Album Review
The Deep Field represents only the third full length album from Joan As Police Woman. (You can get a forth but only at the live shows). Ostensibly the vehicle and work of Joan Wasser, Joan As Police Woman started releasing music back in 2004 with the debut album 'Real Life'. You, as I, may be forgiven for thinking her output had been more substantial. She, or they, if you include other band members, seem to have been an ever present. Always consistently reliable in terms of quality and character, Joan As Police Woman really only tells half the story as her other work shows why she's never far off the musical radar.
Joan's work with many esteemed artists, since the tragic death of her then partner Jeff Buckley, has been not only extensive, eclectic and often emotional it has also been highly productive, usually reaping some fantastic results. Working with Anthony & The Johnson's on their best album to date, 'I Am A Bird Now' may 'Have saved her life' but subsequent work with the likes of David Sylvian, LLoyd Cole, Rufus Wainwright and The Guillemots, amongst others, has only served to develop what was already an awesomely talented singer, musician, writer and performer.
'The Deep Field' is Joan As Police Woman's follow up to 2008's 'To Survive'. In 2011 Joan is seemingly a lot more self assured, a lot more content and at ease with the World. Being in touch with herself to such a degree has meant she has been able to confront her demons and lay her feelings bare but not as a melancholic, naval gazing troubled and tortured soul, rather in a positive celebration of life. OMG, I hear you cry, that'll never work. Fear not for whilst the message may be delivered from a slightly different perspective, the music never fails to impress............this is good stuff, get me to therapy now.
Joan recorded her 'Most open and joyous record' back in Brooklyn with Bryce Goggin. It opens as though listening to Under Water Love on the radio, by the sea, as a calypso band tunes up in the background! 'Nervous' breaks in with some deep velvety bass and characteristically colourful organ set to Joan's lightly soulful vocal. The jagged and psychotic guitar riffs pile in to build the depth of the song as Joan declares...'I'm not opposed to it, I quite enjoy it' and so will you.
The first single taken from the album, 'The Magic', follows majestically on. The opening chords may have you recalling JT's 'Cry Me A River' but don't let that put you off, this is a fabulous tune in all respects. The looping organ, tight percussion, over layered and harmonised vocals and catchy hooks will have you playing it on repeat. The demonic guitar riffs dip in again whilst Joan searches for the magic....
'The shadow inside of me is begging for direction to illicit city,
but I want to do better than to fight this life,
'cos it is a dream.
I wonder if the wild animals livin' in me will ever find freedom?
And all I fear is what I fear,
The use of the word leviathan here should be given extra credence as it is one of those words, such as Wisteria or Tortoise Shell, that will only ever crop up once, maybe twice, in any of the vast array of songs that you hear during your life. (No, I've not looked it up so if you know of ten songs with the word in feel free to let me know!).
'The Action Man' takes the soul soaked atmosphere and fuses in a little funk as Joan 'Feels her heart race as she hits the floor' with some fabulously sleazy Sax solos complimenting her sultry voice. 'Flash' is the first of the albums duets and combines a more moody piece of recollection with a revolving organ piece paired against a trancey/halucinatory Doors like rain of cymbal crashes. Sharing vocals again on 'Human Condition' sees Joan in a more sensual situation, 'My body is waiting at all times to be thrilled', delivering, here and later on with 'Forever And A Year', a light and feminine sensitivity to her Leonard Cohen like partner.
Joan's credibility as an extremely accomplished song writer are further justified with almost every song on The Deep Field. The delicacy of expression and touch in the breezy and in love 'Kiss The Specifics' show you don't have to wallow to make a wonderful record. 'Chemmie' brilliantly captures the life affirming narrative that runs almost entirely through the album whilst Soul manifests itself all over the place, giving the Deep Field a feeling of coherence without losing the individuality of each song. The organ and keyboard pieces are at times sublime, working perfectly with the interjections of horns and guitars to compliment and contrast to Joan's ripened vocals.
The Deep Field is a fabulous record, one that come December 2011 will most likely make the 'Best Ofs' that we've just got shot of for 2010. 'She's only just started to enjoy it' she sings out in one of the albums tunes. Let's hope she continues to do so for a long time to come as this is her best, most consistent, work to date.