Joan As Police Woman - The Classic
For her first album in three years, New Yorker Joan Wasser, aka Joan As Police Woman, has fully embraced the soul-funk-jazz elements of her musical psyche that she’s dabbled with on previous releases. In many ways it makes sense as she’s always had some similarity to Amy Winehouse in her vocal delivery, and there’s now, sadly, an Amy sized hole in popular music. For her fourth LP she’s gone all out with the fun factor, most tracks full of the ups, tempo and lifting, with a heavy emphasis on a brass section and foot tapping tunes. Her sound on The Classic has progressed so far from her relatively simple debut, Real Life, and its subtlest hints of this future direction (the sparse trumpets and the odd track like ‘I Defy’).
Opening track ‘The Witness’ is the album summed up in five minutes: funky, trumpety, just plain groovy, although there are visits to her darker thoughts on occasional tracks. That vibe carries on through ‘Holy City’, the human beat box driven title track with its sixties doo wop refrain, while ‘Shame’ has a bass riff to dance to. ‘What Would You Do’ and ‘New Year’s Day’ are the most similar to previous material, contemplative and less brassy but still layered.
The centerpiece though is the pair of seven minute-ish tracks: ‘Good Together’, about airbrushing the past (“Don’t wanna be nostalgic / For something that never was”), brings drama and a good ninety seconds of feedback laced guitar, before the smooth ‘Get Direct’ slows things down, brings calm, and stretches itself a little too long. Having dispatched with the mid-tempo folk-esque songs of Joan’s earlier albums, The Classic feels like the final destination of a four album long journey; it’s been interesting getting there.