If there’s such a thing as a natural musician then Joan Wasser, aka Joan As Police Woman, surely is one – vocalist, pianist, violinist and guitarist.
Starting piano lessons at the age of six and then learning the violin at the age of eight set Wasser on the way to a career in music, which was to take a significant change in direction. It was at the age of 18 when she enrolled in the College of Fine Arts at Boston University where she studied music and performed with the Boston University Symphony Orchestra, but not long after she grew disillusioned with classical music and decided to pursue an alternative route in music.
Still performing on violin, she joined The Dambuilders with whom she released three albums before expanding her musical horizons in the late 1990s, adding guitar and keyboards to her repertoire and eventually taking on lead vocals.
After the disbanding of The Dambuilders and working with Black Beetle to complete the work of the deceased Jeff Buckley’s (her boyfriend at the time) band, and a stint with Antony and the Johnsons, Wasser set out on her own, developing her own material under the moniker Joan As Police Woman.
Ten years and four albums (five if you count the exclusive album available only at live shows a while back) since she self-released her 2004 eponymous EP, things have gone from strength to strength for the American musician and singer-songwriter. Her latest album The Classic was released in March of this year and was described as ‘musically stunning’ by Uncut. It’s no surpise – it’s a deep record, intelligent songs filled with expression and bright, big sounds. With a strong retro-feel, it is an album which has a soul base (more-so than her previous offerings, although the soul influence has always been there) but is not afraid to crank it up when the time is right.
As an artist, she has always found critical acclaim and has collaborated with a diverse and wide-ranging collection of artists – from Sheryl Crow to Scissor Sisters to Elton John to Fan Modine. Staying refreshingly true to herself and her listeners, she has and continues to deliver honest and heartfelt music, which these days seems to come from a brighter place.
Joan As Police Woman performs at Gorilla on 7 August.
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Author: Editorial Team
Live Manchester editorial team