Joan as Police Woman

The Deep Field

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Joan Wasser's first Joan as Police Woman album, Real Life, mourned the loss of her lover, Jeff Buckley, while her second, To Survive, mourned the loss of her mother. The Deep Field, however, finds her alone but not lonely, still searching for something and finding beauty and even happiness, if not answers. Wasser reunited with producer Bryce Goggin for this set of songs, but the guests that popped up on her previous albums are notably absent, as is much of the sadness that made Real Life and To Survive as wrenching as they were compelling. Not that The Deep Field is entirely clear sailing: on “Nervous,” she’s shaken precisely because things are going so well with a new love, while on “Run for Love,” she cautions, “I don’t wanna talk on the future with you” even as she revels in togetherness. Here, her highs are as stratospheric as her lows were deep before; “The Action Man” starts as a spin around the dancefloor and ends with Wasser losing track of time and space. These unique twists she puts on happiness keep the album fresh, even when its second half ventures into the smoothest musical territory Wasser has yet explored. She sings of dreams and sensuality on “Kiss the Specifics,” “Forever and a Year,” and “Chemmie” with a womanly intimacy that simmers in her voice and gives the songs’ soul foundations a mellow glow. However, Joan as Police Woman and The Deep Field are at their best when there is some urgency adding tension to Wasser's velvety voice and melodies. “Flash,” the album’s longest excursion, is jazzy, spooky, and a little surreal, a dreamlike late-night encounter made all the spookier by rustling woodwinds, while Wasser's confessions on “The Magic” couldn’t be more down to earth: “I find myself face to face with me,” she sings, and that connection extends to her listeners, who will find The Deep Field a pleasure to hear, even if it’s not quite as riveting as her earlier work.

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