Saturday, February 09, 2008

Joan as Police Woman - Real Life

Skyscraper Magazine has graciously allowed me to reprint some of my music reviews here, so I'd like by adding a few from their last issue, then link to some from previous issues, as well. The latest issue of Skyscraper should be hitting a store near you very soon. Let's start off with one of my favorite releases from the last year or so.

Real Life (CD) – Cheap Lullaby

Joan Wasser is a New York artist/violinist who’s built an impressive résumé working with musicians like Joseph Arthur, Antony and the Johnsons, Scissor Sisters, and Lou Reed. On Real Life Joan and her band have crafted an exquisite album, which equals and even bests the work of many of those same luminaries. Throughout Real Life, Wasser alternates between sweet and insistent, often within the same song: "Feed the Light," "Save Me" – those are imperatives. So, too, on the title track, Joan tenderly implores, "be reckless with me," reminding you that lowering your guard sometimes exposes you to "real life." With similar insistence, Antony Hagerty appears in all his glory, too, trading vocals with Joan as they stamp out "I Defy" against militant piano. "Eternal Flame" proves most the charming and affirming tune here as Joan sings against chanting whirls of her own "yes, yes" accompanying vocals while Joseph Arthur seesaws between growls and falsetto behind her. Arthur also accompanies her on "Feed the Light," a spooky, elongated, but gently encouraging tune, ruffled with distorted strings. There’s much more: "Save Me" with its jabbing piano, "Flushed Chest," with its muted brass and Wasser’s violin, and the sinuous lines she traces on "The Ride." Take your time with Real Life. It offers sublime rewards. - Robert Stribley

This review was originally published in Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 26 (Fall 2007)

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