Friday, December 19, 2008

Joan as Policewoman - To Survive

To Survive (CD) – Cheap Lullaby

I saw Joan Wasserman open for Joseph Arthur a few years ago in Denver, Colorado before I could really appreciate her in toto. She played entirely by herself and was pretty riveting, but I wasn't familiar enough with her music then. Oh, to return to that moment back and appreciate it properly. Wasserman's latest effort under the Joan as Poilice Woman moniker doesn't pack the visceral wallop of her last effort, Real Life, but To Survive is a lovely, refined effort nonetheless. It’s an intimate affair, whether you're ensconced in the slo-mo drip of "Start of my Heart" or the sultry, almost funereal "Honor my Wishes." The dirty guitar on "Holiday" is about as noisy as the album gets, but it's distorted and mixed in far enough back not to disrupt the proceedings. On all these tracks, Wasserman’s tender, quavering vocals are generally the focus, as well as her hesitant, jabbing piano. She maintains this tone on the yin/yang duo of “To Be Loved” and “To Be Lonely” and on the title track, in which she addresses her childhood fear that she might meet the fate of her namesake, Joan of Arc. Eventually, Rufus Wainwright joins Wasserman on “To America,” a subtle, almost stately rebuke to her country’s recent recklessness, closing the album with a loping beat, and, eventually, fading skyrockets. – Robert Stribley

This review was originally published in Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 29 (Winter 2009)

No comments: