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features /  music feature
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joan as police woman
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Legally blinding.

It’s the voice you notice first: rich yet gritty and sassy, a mezzo-soprano so euphonious that you’re moved to look up vocal ranges on Wikipedia and type ‘sweet-sounding’ into thesaurus.com. On debut album Real Life, Joan Wasser’s remarkable vocals ebb and flow between woozy lows and high, trilling flourishes. It does rather make you wonder what clunking amateurs you’ve been wasting your time on up till now.

Oddly, Wasser’s principal occupation is as a violinist with Antony & The Johnsons, and Antony Hegerty returns the favour by duetting with her on I Defy. Wasser had also played extensively in a variety of new wave art-rock bands before stepping centre stage. “I began singing to myself, very quietly to myself so no one could hear. It’s shocking to hear your own voice. It’s also shocking to learn you have no idea what you want to say.”



Similarly experienced are Rainy Orteca [bass] and Ben Perowsky [drums]. Her companion players in Joan As Police Woman, the pair boast CV’s that namecheck John Cale, Rufus Wainwright and Lloyd Cole. So how did three indie-punk veterans end up making a warm soul record that recalls Cat Power’s recent Stax-style odyssey or Dusty Springfield’s more soulful excursions? “I really love the sound of those old Al Green records. To me, punk rock symbolised saying what you thought without worrying about the repercussions. Now it’s sort a fashion statement. So, while my record doesn’t sound like Bad Brains, the feeling is there. It’s all raw emotionality.” Indeed, on woozy first single The Ride she half sings, half sighs, “Starting now the wait is over”. Come on in, we’ve been expecting you.


James Cowdery 03 August 06
Joan As Police Woman – Real Life, released 07 August 06 on Reveal.
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Repeated exposure post 1
comment by flyingtwinkle    Aug 5, 2006
benefits greatly, she is now superior to her previous performances.
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