Joan Wasser Jukebox
Joan Wasser has experienced plenty in her life already. She was adopted as an infant and soon discovered her personality was different than her family’s; she took violin and piano lessons as a child; studied classical music in college and decided to join punk bands to infuse her classical music studies with something else; and she was girlfriend of influential musician Jeff Buckley during his unfortunate drowning in the late ’90s. Several bands and a solo career later, she now writes and plays with her band Joan As Police Woman and has released her fifth album, The Classic.
Containing elements of soul, Motown, rock, reggae, classical and indie rock, Wasser makes sure to touch on all genres. Starting with “Witness,” horns are abound, the pace is fast and Wasser is super sassy. It’s followed up with the single “Holy City” featuring Reggie Watts. Instrumentals have no problem standing out as much as Wasser’s voice does and at times they manage to overpower her voice and go on crazy tangents like at the end of “Good Together.”
But her best tracks are ones where the band takes a few steps back. Wasser strips down in “Get Direct,” a quiet song in which she gently seduces listeners. And she sounds soulful and sad in “New Years Day,” one of the best songs on the album, lyrically: “I’m tired of my life,” she says, “Always in a state / a state of overstating.” This exposure of herself and analyzing her owen emotions is a common occurrence throughout the ten tracks.
When The Classic has played all the way through, you’ll want to start it over. It contains too much to only listen to once. There isn’t one track that should be completely avoided, although some are a lot weaker than others. She’s no Amy Winehouse and she’s not on Aretha’s diva level, but that’s ok. She doesn’t have to be a diva to be enjoyable.