Bands to Watch #28: Joan as a Policewoman

By on Thursday, 4th September 2008 at 2:50 pm

When you’ve toured with Sheryl Crow, you’ve got to be good. When Rufus Wainwright has handpicked you to duet with, you’ve got to be special. And when you were once a member of Antony & The Johnsons, you’re truly standalone.

Meet Joan Wasser, leading lady of American punk/soul band, Joan As Police Woman.

We know very little about Joan, strange considering she has been on the musical map for quite some time. Did you know that Jeff Buckley’s classic ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ was written about her? And did you know she was his lover when he died in 1997? Yes, there is certainly an air of mystery about Joan and I suspect she likes it that way.

Joan had her first piano lesson aged six. By 14, she had taught herself Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love on the violin. Inspired by the Washington punk scene, she began to experiment with a number of local rock bands. She joined Antony and his Johnsons in 1999, a move that she claimed saved her life. She
toured with Prince of piano rock, Rufus Wainwright in 2004. It was safe to say she had made it.

Now aged 38, Joan is fronting her own creation, Joan As Police Woman. Why that name?

“I wanted to be Joan Wasser, but back home, people kept mistaking my concerts for solo violin shows, because that’s what I was known for,” she says.

Joan was inspired by the 70s TV show Police Woman, in which Angie Dickinson played a cop who was tough and glamorous.

“People who got that reference got more out of it, and people who didn’t grew to love it.”

Their debut album, Real Life, opened our eyes. But their second album, To Survive, is set to launch them into our hearts and minds.

With Ben Perowsky on drums and Rainy Orteca on bass, Joan gives us vocals brimming with odes to Nina Simone, Chrissie Hynde and Dusty Springfield.

The songs are direct yet welcoming, addressing love, sex and loss with searing honesty. Joan says she feels part of a new generation of female singer-songwriters who have the guts to be emotionally direct. The lead single, ‘To Be Loved’ wraps around your soul with girlish wonder leaving you more than satisfied.

It is simply beautiful music.

To Survive, on Reveal Records, is out now.

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