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Joan as Police Woman (Joan Wasser, born 26.7.1970) Joan Wasser is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She is best known for her performances under the guise of Joan as Police Woman. Wasser has also undertaken studio work for the likes of Lou Reed, Tanya Donnelly, Sheryl Crow and the Scissor Sisters.
Childhood & Early Career: Joan Wasser was raised in Norwalk, Connecticut. She took a number of music lessons as a child, including piano and violin. Her music career started in earnest whilst she was at Boston University.
She was admitted to university early, to study with Yuri Mazurkevich. She also played with local bands and artists such as Mary Timony, the Lotus Eaters and the Dambuilders.
In 1997, her boyfriend, musician Jeff Buckley, drowned in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the son of the songwriter Tim Buckley. She carried on making music with Those Bastard Souls and later started a band with the remaining members of Jeff's band, called Black Beetle. They recorded an album's worth of material but it was never commercially released.
Wasser's burgeoning career: Joan Wasser joined Antony and the Johnsons in 1999 and contributed to the album I Am A Bird Now, which went on to win the Mercury Music Prize.
Black Beetle ended in 2002 and prompted Joan to begin work as a solo artist, as well as creating a band around her, named Joan as Police Woman. The trio was formed in New York City, with Ben Perowsky on drums and Rainy Orteca on bass. An eponymous debut EP was released in 2004.
Joan was then invited by Rufus Wainwright to join his band, as well as touring with him and opening the shows with her own project.
Joan as Police Woman's debut album, Real Life, was released in 2006 in the UK and Europe and the following year in the USA. Later in 2006, Joan as Police Woman supported Guillemots, as well as recording with them on their debut album, Through the Windowpane.
Wasser also sang and played violin on 'Ballad of a Deadman' with David Sylvian on Steve Jansen's Slope album in 2007.
The second album from Joan as Police Woman was entitled To Survive and was released in June 2008. When Rainy Orteca left the band, she was replaced by Timo Ellis on bass guitar.
2009 saw Joan as Police Woman release an album of cover versions, entitled Cover. The compilation saw her take on artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.
The Deep Field, the next studio album from Joan As Police Woman was released in January 2011.
It's always nice to just reflect sometimes, take stock of your life and look back on what you've achieved and where you are. As Joan Wasser approaches her 49th birthday she has decided that now would be a timely juncture in her career to pull together highlights from the last fourteen years of solo recordings. To support the release of her three CD compilation that dropped in late May, Wasser has embarked on an extensive 'Joanthology' UK-wide tour.
At the Quarterhouse in Folkestone, Kent, Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman, took residence for the night to play through some of the stand-out tracks from her extensive back catalogue. Joan played without a support act and without a band; it was just her, a piano, a guitar and occasionally a Roland Rythmn Box. Joan As Police Woman took to the stage of the Quarterhouse in a sleeveless black jumpsuit and metallic platform boots. She settled herself in front of the near sell-out crowd and began her set with three consecutive songs at the piano.
Lit discreetly, Joan played with composure and poise, putting her all into the delivery of each song. 'To Be Lonely', a superb, spine tingling version of the achingly beautiful 'Wonderful' and 'Warning Bell' served up a breathtaking trio of songs to start the night. Joan's first song on guitar, 'Forever And a Year', was taken from her 2011 album 'The Deep Field', before her second went back to her first solo album from 2007 as she lovingly dedicated 'We Don't Own It' to her dear friend Elliott Smith.
Joan Wasser brought her very particular brand of soulful music to a quiet corner of Brighton as she neared the end of the current tour. In support of her latest album release, 'Damned Devotion', earlier this year, Joan has been as far afield as Istanbul and as close to home as Brooklyn. Tonight, nestled among well kept rows of Mews and a few roads back from the hustle and bustle of busy Brighton life, Joan as Police Woman entertained all before her in the near two hundred year old venue of The Old Market (TOM).
Fyfe Dangerfield, of The Guillemots, stepped up on stage prior to Joan and blew a lot of the audience away with his solo performance. "You're amazing" came the shout out from the crowd as he flitted between piano, guitar and what looked like a bass ukulele. As he changed instruments, he also had various, low budget, costume changes, "Like Katy Perry without the money", he quipped. There were a couple of dressing gowns (one a very impressive Marvel superheroes number), some silk scarfs and a very fetching pair of huge Gorilla head slippers. He played out a stunning rendition of 'Falling Out Of Reach' on the uke and a very in character take on 'Outside'. The acoustics suited his style and his voice, although he did confess that the seaside had rendered him incapable of talking properly.
Joan As Police Woman wasn't far behind Fyfe. She and her band looked resplendent as they took to the stage in their matching silk blouson jackets. Like a latter day set of Pink Ladies but with only one (leading) lady. Joan was in fine voice and her band, aside from one small hiccup later on, were as tight as they come. They started out with a perfectly pitched take on the opening track from her latest album. 'Wonderful' sounded stripped back, clear and crisp as Joan's soulful vocal resonated around the hall. One song and she'd already captured the audience. 'Warning Bell' and the incredibly infectious, more upbeat, 'Tell Me', sealed the opening trio of Damned Devotion tracks before a throw back to her first solo album, 'Real Life', with a take on 'Eternal Flame'.
Continue reading: Joan As Police Woman - The Old Market, Brighton 23.04.2018 Live Review
Joan as Police Woman's latest album release 'Damned Devotion' sees the lyrically adroit soulstress delivering her best work in years. That's not to say she's been off form or put out some questionable material, it just means that this album marks a high point. After taking a minor side-step to collaborate with Benjamin Lazar Davis on her last album, 2016's 'Let It Be You', Joan Wasser returns to her forte; smouldering, soulful excellence. Gone are most of the jagged edges, fiddly synth noises and unaligned percussive touches. Where 'Let It Be You' helped Joan investigate a creative path that was slightly more experimental, 'Damned Devotion' feels more like Wasser playing to, and exploiting, her strengths.
'Damned Devotion' is, in large parts, a lesson in restraint; it's just as much about what's been left out as to what's been carefully and considerately added in. There is no sense of urgency, no need to hurry any of it along, just a brilliant sense of calmness built into its very framework. Where Joan's previous album may have been a little fidgety, 'Damned Devotion' is super smooth and definitely, for the most part, chilled out.
Arguably, it's the tracks with the lowest BPM that help elevate Joan's latest album to being rather incredible. Opening track 'Wonderful' is just that. This is Joan doing what she does best, a 'Get Direct' or 'The Magic'; a sultry, smoking and seductive song that captures you from the opening bars. The deft arrangement lets Joan's voice take centre stage as she delivers up a vocal that showcases her talent superbly. 'Silly Me' is similarly laidback and relaxed as Joan questions and contemplates in a retrospective that oozes heartache and pain. The paired back score is pitched to perfection to act as a foundation on which Joan can project her impassioned vocal. 'Warning Bell' and close out track 'I Don't Mind' show equal self control and moderation. Joan's vocal soars and the songs give up a seemingly uncomplicated joy in their relative simplicity.
Continue reading: Joan As Police Woman - Damned Devotion Album Review
Whilst 2016 has been too full of tragedy and sad loss it has also undoubtedly been a bumper year in terms of album releases.
There is no way to aptly mark the passing of some of the very best artists of any generation but in amongst the untimely deaths has come some inspirational and ground breaking music.
My albums are all ones I have enjoyed immensely and continue to play. Whilst Radiohead, M.I.A, Peter Doherty and many others may have missed the cut it wasn't really a difficult choice this year. It may not be all that eclectic but there are some great albums in there. Nick Cave's Skeleton Tree is not only this years best album but also an album that is rapidly becoming one of my all time favourites, it's just so good.
Continue reading: Andrew Lockwood's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
From Brooklyn to Brighton, via sleet and snow, Joan as Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis came to the Haunt in Brighton to showcase their latest collaborative album, 'Let It Be You', Thankfully the weather in Brighton was a lot better than their drive down from Hebden Bridge, the venue for the previous night's gig. Here, in the screening room of a converted cinema, Joan, Ben and band took to the stage to perform album highlights as well as some of Joan's solo back catalogue.
Appearing throughout, as per the album cover, in blue jumpsuits (Think Kwik Fit ad extras vs 70's L.A car wash) Joan and Ben set about mixing the very new with the very special. The gig got off to a strong start and hardly faltered in the near ninety minute set. Opening with 'Satellite' it was clear that Joan was in good voice, her vocal at the forefront of this track and sounding especially emotive as the song de-constructed into a near A cappella end. Album highlight 'Magic Lamp', followed by its more angular title track and soulful reflection, 'Hurts So Bad', were up next; Joan, Ben and band assuredly affirming the quality of their new record.
At five songs in Joan went back a decade to revisit her first solo album, 'Real Life', with a stirring, organ heavy, version of 'Save Me'. Shortly afterwards Joan went solo again, alone on stage as she initially struggled to relieve herself of her, rather more difficult to take off than anticipated, wrist band. "Thanks for understanding my plight" she commented to the crowd, "I'm free at last". Stood at the keys, Joan first played out, 'To Be Loved', from her second record 'To Survive', and then, guitar in hand, proceeded to deliver a fabulous take on 'We Don't Own It'.
Following the release of two incredibly good albums in recent years, 'The Deep Field' from 2011 and 'The Classic' from 2014, Joan APW has decided to throw a slight curve ball on her latest record, 'Let It Be You'. For this, her 5th full length album proper, she has teamed up with producer, performer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and serial collaborator, Benjamin Lazar Davis. (Joan herself is knowingly never averse to an opportunity to collaborate either having previously worked with Antony Hegarty, Lou Reed, Brian Molko and Lloyd Cole amongst many others)
With both artists mining a rich vein of creativity in isolation the prospect of a joint venture would, at least conceptually, sound very appealing. Where Joan excels is in her delivery and expression. Her soulful, smouldering, sometimes smoking vocal is a wonderful thing to experience. It's often said of many an artist that they have a unique, individual or immediately identifiable voice but it's also often a crock of sh**. Joan however is the real deal, the reason why so many other artists want to work with her, want to use her vocal, want her input or desire her participation. Joan defies classification because of the diversity of her work but at the very least, certainly in terms of contemporary soul vocalists, there are few who come close to touching her.
So why Benjamin? What does Ben bring to the table that's made Joan hook up and make an entire album? Has he brought anything identifiable, anything to make this a worthwhile and productive collaboration? On balance I'd have to say yes he has on both counts. If you don't explore the possibilities you'll never know what could have been and throughout 'Let It Be You' the pair are clearly keen on shaping a new sound through a creative musical exploration.
Continue reading: Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Let It Be You Album Review
Andrew Lockwood’s Top Albums of 2014
10) Luke Sital-Singh - 'The Fire Inside'
A mixture of previous EP releases and new material 'The Fire Inside' is a fully loaded debut album from the short listed 'Sound Of 2014' artist. Luke wears his heart on his sleeve through tragedy, torment and failed relationships giving rise to some magical musical moments.
9) Deptford Goth - 'Songs'
The second album from Daniel Woolhouse is a thing of joy that needs to be appreciated without distraction, It's soft, smooth and oh so soothing, it can't fail but to relax and chill you out. If you need to wind down just let it wash over you, you'll feel all the better for it.
8) Perfume Genius - 'Too Bright'
Mike Hadreas has broadened his horizons on this, his fourth album. Here he not only deliveries on his signature piano ballads but also explores new sonic territory to great effect. Too Bright is a multifaceted album full of surprises that never fails to delight.
Continue reading: Andrew Lockwood’s Top Albums Of 2014
Having had to wait just over three years for a follow-up to one of the best albums of 2011, anticipation has been one of high but anxious expectation. Thankfully, the anxiety element was entirely unnecessary as 'The Classic', Joan as Police Woman's fourth album, is a stunning follow-up to 2011's 'The Deep Field'.
The whole album has a feeling of being such a complete and cohesive piece of work bound by wonderfully exuberant and sumptuous threads. 'The Classic' is another accomplished, fully-formed album from the formidable Joan Wasser. The maturity and dexterity with which 'The Deep Field' was delivered is, again, in evidence here. This time around though, Joan has allowed herself more freedom and a more indulgent framework, and as such she has become even more expressive.
The temperament with which Joan approaches her work is perfectly presented on 'The Classic'. Joan has once again shown just how good an album can be without the need to languish in melancholy. The mood of her latest work embodies her 'lust for life' and beautifully encapsulates an upbeat, life-affirming disposition. Having gone back to a more traditional live recording set up, Joan has managed to capture a real sense of joy and happiness. There is little shoe gazing and plenty of celebration.
Continue reading: Joan As Police Woman - The Classic Album Review
Date of birth
26th July, 1970
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