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"The Deep Field"

Joan As Police Woman – The Deep Field
01 February 2011, 13:00 Written by Alan Souter

“I’m looking for the magic, I’m feeling for the right way out of my mind”, sings Joan Wasser on ‘The Magic’, the first single to be taken from Joan As Police Woman’s third album The Deep Field. It’s a track that oozes class with swirling keys and alluring rhythm, it boasts a sound not too dissimilar to much of the modern r’n’b that clutters our charts albeit with real instrumentation as opposed to a rack-full of frequency baiting samples. You get the distinct impression that if this song were to nestle its way onto the latest Rihanna or Kesha record then it’d be a sure-fire chart-topper, but it’s just one of the strings to Wasser’s bow, a woman who has a wonderful ability to conduct her business within an assorted intricacy of genres.

The perception Wasser has for her song-writing is what makes her music impossible to categorise and why it’s such a pleasure to listen, from the jerky stabs of opener ‘Nervous’, to the spacious grooves of ‘Human Condition’, the latter set off with wonderfully obscure Barry White-esque backing vocals, it shouldn’t work but boy it does. Much like, another album highlight, ‘Chemmie’, which boasts a more classic soul sound, think Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder, with some whispered call and response backing vocals, it’s got layers of cheese all over it but the song is so well written it’s instantly familiar in the most pleasurable way with lines like, “…we don’t have to die to get to heaven cause we’ve got chemmie”.

There are moments though when things get a little weighty – ‘Flash’ and ‘Run For Love’ both hark back to the more dense ground covered on previous outing To Survive with the former clocking in at a cumbersome 8 minutes. You could be forgiven if your mind begins to wander but when music is as ambitious as this, you can only accept that in striving for sonic perfection as Wasser does, that occasionally a song won’t quite reach the highs of those surrounding it. The fact that the aforementioned songs follow album stand-out ‘The Action Man’ does little to aid their cause, another gem that sounds like it’s been beamed in from a dusty jukebox in a dim-lit bar in Detroit-circa-1971, “I felt my heart race when we hit the floor / from then on I can’t tell you much about time, and space” sings Wasser at her most sassy.

It’s testament to Wasser’s voice that it can portray such a rich and varied character, you always believe her, and that’s why your stomach will be in knots when she sings, “I’ve always known I would die alone, so here I go”, on ‘Forever and A Year’, it’s a stark, beautiful song and you can’t help but feel our leading lady has found ‘the magic’ she was looking for and it was within her all along.


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