Lately I keep coming across mentions of Joan As Police Woman, a band (or “project” or whatever) fronted by Joan Wasser, so I thought I’d finally give her album Real Life a listen. I think I like it. I know I like the name Joan As Police Woman. Yes, it’s an homage to the ’70s Angie Dickinson drama. Here’s Wasser practicing her badass Police Woman stare:
Real Life was released in Europe a full year ago, but has just been released in the U.S. — I’m not sure why we’ve been so deprived. I supposed Joan As Police Woman’s music isn’t exactly “commercial”; these songs can’t really be called catchy, at least not without a few listens (and then they’ll stay in your head for a while). Many of them manage to be structurally complex yet melodically simple, which adds up to a rewarding-yet-effortless listening experience.
I’d say it’s no coincidence that Wasser has worked with Rufus Wainwright, who often strikes the same balance. And then there’s the possible influence of her late ex, Jeff Buckley. She also likes to sing songs by David Bowie. How many cool infleunces can one person have?
Wasser has been compared to Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Beth Gibbons and Kim Gordon, and those are all pretty accurate. But there’s something else in there too — something not so ethereal, more down and dirty. The title track definitely brings Jane Siberry to mind, and “Eternal Flame” is kinda Feist-like.
But why am I comparing her to everyone? Clearly Wasser has her own groove. Oh, and some people say she’s gay, but I have no evidence to confirm or deny that. She definitely plays with gender in the song “Christobel,” but then so does Kelly Clarkson in that Reba duet, so who knows?