It was wonderful to see and hear Joan Wasser – Joan as Police Woman – perform a solo, intimate gig at the Exeter Phoenix on the 1st July.
I became a fan like so many others in 2006 with the release of her debut album Real Life. It is a collection swelled by beautiful songs and singing, unquestionably pretty in their sweet melodies and the resonance of Wasser’s vocal. In her performance at the Phoenix [excusing the inclination to make namechecks, but always as compliment/reference point] I ‘recognised’ for the first time she had the same kind of vocal presence as Laura Nyro – this made more of a link when playing the piano rather than guitar, for obvious reasons. It is in the depth of her voice that carries even in its softest moments.
Early on in her performance Wasser shared a brief anecdote about her good friend Elliott Smith playing at a rock gig and only offering ‘delicate’ songs – and this became another touchstone for the night as she played her own tender ones, though these had other depths in the honesty of their lyrics.
She played a superb selection across the range of her many and varied albums [and they aren’t all in the ‘pretty/delicate’ category that I particularly like – see a couple of my other reviews here], and the following are favourites I remember especially from the night - song and album:
To Be Lonely – To Survive
Forever and a Year – The Deep Field
We Don’t Own It – Real Life
Real Life – Real Life
Tell Me – Damned Devotion
Kiss – JOANTHOLOGY
The Ride – Real Life