There’s much to love on the first full studio album by Joan Wasser, she who be Joan As Police Woman. ‘Real Life’ is a strong collection of songs, all propelled forward by her breathy, powerful vocals. But ‘To Survive’ is the one that gets me every time. It took me an incredibly long time to realise that there was more than one song on this album, so resolutely did I fall in love with the third track, ‘To Be Loved’. From the moment I heard it till, well, now, it absolutely melted my heart and tickled my metaphorical fancy. It is a near-perfect pop song and yet it doesn’t have a stadium-shagging chorus or a naggingly infectious beat. In fact, it shuffles along, slightly awkwardly, Wasser’s voice mellifluously wafting over a masterful musical backdrop. I still adore it and suspect I always will.
In attempt to avoid song fatigue, I ensure that I spent some time with the rest of the album and was overjoyed to realise that the other nine songs weren’t too shabby either. ‘Honor Wishes’ sets out the soulful and sparse stall and the record never looks back. The hypnotically throbbing bass on ‘Holiday’ hints at a darker undercurrent while jangly acoustic guitar gently layers itself over the top, while ‘Start Of My Heart’ is a love song of quite startling simplicity benefiting further from a wonderfully emotive vocal.
Rufus Wainwright creeps in for the album’s finale, ‘To America’, but don’t be foolish enough to think that he’s there to bolster proceedings. In the nicest possible way, he simply isn’t needed. There’s enough to make you staggeringly glad that you shelled out your cash on this one, long before you get to the last track.