Dylan Jones: 'Joan Wasser’s beautiful voice has been described variously as soul, jazz and thrift-store rock'

Share
Related Topics

Her moniker is fairly unprepossessing. Joan Wasser started calling herself "Joan As Police Woman" to distinguish her solo singing career from her work as a violinist. Obviously. And it gives no indication as to what her music – or indeed her voice – might sound like.

Her music – and indeed that voice, that beautiful voice – has been described variously as soul, jazz and thrift-store rock, and a mixture of all three. Examine her lyrics, or listen to her talk about what she does, and you'll discover a woman who is passionate about what she does, passionate in her espousal of her craft, and dedicated to finding hope in despair. So she's big on redemption. But she does it so well.

By rights she should be a much angrier performer, yet her songs are curiously arranged lullabies, sombre tunes with complex lyrics, delivered in a haunting and often exquisite voice. She is the alt Lady Gaga – less dramatic, with a sweeter disposition.

Her forte is the melancholy piano ballad, and it all comes from the heart: her mother's death, being in love, trying to figure out all the stuff in her head (and having seen her interviewed a few times, she certainly appears to have rather a lot of conflicting stuff going on up there). She has played with Rufus Wainwright and Antony Hegarty, had a three-year relationship with Jeff Buckley and has composed string arrangements for Scissor Sisters and played violin for Nick Cave and Lou Reed.

Playing with Antony and the Johnsons in 1999 was a huge turning point for her. "Joining that band changed my life. It gave me a lot of hope when I was a little bit lost." Then, in 2004, Wainwright encouraged her to tour in his band and debut her Joan As Police Woman guise as his support act. Her stage name is a reference to her supposed resemblance to the actress Angie Dickinson, star of the 1970s US cop series Police Woman.

She is on tour this month (she plays the Barbican in London tomorrow night) and you'd be mad to miss her.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP HCM/PAYROLL CONSULTANT

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP HCM/PAYROLL...

MS Dynamics NAV Developer

£45000 - £52000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Excellent oppor...

SAP GRC/SECURITY CONSULTANT

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP GRC/SECURIT...

Senior Marine / Shipping Solicitor - South Coast

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: SOUTH COAST - MARINE / SHIPPING Th...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Are we politely looking the other way when it comes to Kate, the ever-shrinking Duchess?

Grace Dent
 

The daily catch-up: art of the unapology, a bet on UKIP and printer ink molecules

John Rentoul
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game