The Solution Is Restless

Tony Allen / Joan as Police Woman / Dave Okumu


Review by Timothy Monger

A mercurial three-way collaboration between pop auteur Joan Wasser, Afro-beat icon Tony Allen, and producer Dave Okumu, The Solution Is Restless is a rangy and intriguing platter. Following her 2019 retrospective and subsequent covers project, this marks Wasser's first new Joan as Police Woman material since 2018 and is among the final recordings made by Allen, who died in April 2020. The connecting thread between these two artists is apparently their mutual friend Damon Albarn, who introduced them in 2019 and also appears on a song here. Completing the project's primary triangle is Dave Okumu, frontman for the eclectic London group the Invisible. With little obvious direction, the trio gathered in a Paris recording studio for an evening of free-form improvisations to which Wasser later added lyrics and sculpted into this unique ten-song set. Stitched together by sparse keyboard parts, Allen's stuttering drum patterns, and muted guitar stabs, The Solution Is Restless is a sophisticated mood piece with an enchanting late-night feel. Rarely has Wasser sounded so seductive and strange as on highlights like the eerie, string-adorned "Dinner Date" or the slow-drip art-funk of 11-minute opener "The Barbarian." Background murmurs and distant strings create the icy backdrop of "Enter the Dragon" while Allen explores with the nimble finesse of a master instrumentalist. It's an album to inhabit and get lost in -- a headphone gem of subtle shivers and slow transitions birthed by unexpected bedfellows. Everyone involved shines, but for Wasser, it's a feather in her cap and an excellent way to kick off the next phase in what continues to be an exciting career.

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