SOUL | The Deep Field Joan as Police Woman | Liberator | 4 stars
THE death in 1997 of her boyfriend, the great Jeff Buckley, left an indelible mark on the depthlessly talented Joan Wasser. Indeed her first two albums in her capacity as Joan as Police Woman were very public testament to that grief. Now from the long shadow of catharsis comes The Deep Field, the multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter’s third LP, and in short it’s a dark gem. The dystopian rocker Nervous opens proceedings, distorted guitar and dogged backbeat setting a vivid backdrop for Wasser’s bleakly beautiful vocal. Wasser and wily Wurlitzer unite like old friends on the melodic funk-soul vamp The Magic, while baritone sax over a wandering bass line brings the mood back to darker locales on the slow-moving Action Man. Layered harmonic vocals float in a thick soup of sound and disjunctive rhythm on the unlikely, charming cacophony of Flash, while the ever-cool soul of Run for Love is perfect lazy Sunday afternoon fare. A rasta beat and bracing bass line brings to life the uber-optimism of Human Condition before Wasser unleashes her rare vocal quality on the reflective soul tune Kiss the Specifics and the rockier Chemmie. A cast of thousands (well, 16), plays on the album, and the collaborative splendour is best showcased at the album’s climax. “Everyone wants to be remembered,” Wasser trills above an unmade bed of accompaniment on solid closer I Was Everyone, “So stand up and be heard.” Wasser, in her own voice, is doing that very thing.