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Joan As Police Woman – The Deep Field

Emily Bruce


Being the partner of the late Jeff Buckley and having worked with artists such as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and Sparklehorse means that expectations are high for Joan Wasser. Her first two solo albums, Real Life and To Survive certainly didn’t disappoint, but with her new album, The Deep Field, she seems to have hit her peak.

A lot more immediate than her previous two efforts, The Deep Field is an excellent place to start for someone unfamiliar with Joan’s work. The first single from the album, The Magic, is a catchy, bass-heavy number, and arguably her best song to date.

Wasser’s last album, To Survive, contained a lot more mellow, piano-based songs, but on The Deep Field she has gone in completely the opposite direction – even the slower songs are seeped in many layers; for example the eight-minute long Flash, which is not monotonous at all despite its duration. Indeed, many of the songs on the album are lengthier than Joan’s usual work – she is more experimental on this record, which is no bad thing.

The male back-up vocals throughout the album add to its depth – apart from the weakest song on the record, Human Condition, where they get a bit much – and they are particularly strong on the centrepiece of the album, Run For Love, which is perhaps the best song on the record bar The Magic; a yearning, sensual number on which Wasser sings insistently: ‘I am telling you now and forever / I am what you have in mind’.

Other highlights include Chemmie, another sultry tune containing talk of ‘animal attraction’ and ‘chemical reactions’ and opener Nervous; the album’s first line, ‘I want you to fall in love with me’, paves the way for an LP that’s main theme is passion and longing. Forever and a Year, the lyrics from which the album gets its title, is also a gorgeous number, and I Was Everyone is a fittingly powerful way to close an intense album.

Joan’s music is always dark, but here – unlike in some of her other work – it is uplifting, not depressing. Her strength is combining flowing melodies with gorgeous, soothing vocals, and on The Deep Field she has perfected these skills to make her best album yet.