Joan As A Police Woman: The Deep Field

The Deep Field marks Joan Wasser’s third album under the name Joan As Police Woman. The album is a marked change in direction for Wasser, who has previously worked with Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, and former lover Jeff Buckley. Right from the opening track we are struck by the decisively more carefree and upbeat sound Wasser has opted for. ‘Nervous’ feels lazily arrogant, a crunchy guitar riff strutting along into a simplistic synth-based chorus that builds into the closing fade.

Wasser has clearly made a conscious decision to lyrically avoid topics covered in previous works such as heartbreak and loss. Final track ‘I Was Everyone’s’ uplifting proclamation “You will feel the tides turn for you” alongside the closing refrain of “We are the champions” feel a world away from 2009’s single ‘Start of My Heart’, riddled with its mournful regret.

If not love, then certainly sexuality and physical attraction are touched upon. Single ‘The Magic’ depicts her search for a spark between two people, whilst the accompanying video is riddled with sexual imagery. However, The Deep Field’s standout track has to be ‘Flash’, a truly mesmerising seven minute adventure rich in texture and layering. The minor riff loops continuously, but it is the inserts from the oboe underneath a haunting tribal chant that set the song apart.

Parts of the record begin to drag after a number of listens and it does require the listener to be loyal; songs such as ‘Forever and A Year’ need to be fully concentrated on both lyrically and musically. As a result, The Deep Field cannot simply be played in the background or enjoyed as a one-off, but rather as an entirety. The album is a joy to listen to, despite Wasser not having completely shaken off the wistfulness of previous works. Whilst it is ultimately a successful album, The Deep Field demands a bit more from listeners than they are always willing to necessarily give.