Joan Wasser , lead singer for Joan as A Police Woman, is a violinist and singer/songwriter. She spent time with the band 'The Dambuilders' in the mid 90's and has performed and done studio work with the likes of Lou Reed, Tanya Donelly, Sheryl Crow, Sparklehorse, Dave Gahan, Elton John, the Scissor Sisters and Rufus Wainwright (who has a guest spot on the albums last track). In May of 1997, her boyfriend at the time, musician Jeff Buckley, drowned accidentally, in Memphis, Tennessee. He had written the song "Everybody Here Wants You" about her. She then bounced around between bands for a few years and then in February of 2004, Rufus Wainwright asked her to join his band, tour and open the shows with her new project, Joan as Police Woman. She then went on to release the acclaimed album 'Real Life" in 2006.
'To Survive' is Joan's second studio album under the current moniker and her best to date. The album is inspired by the death of Joan's mother from cancer (she definitely has plenty in her life to draw inspiration from). The whole album is very somber, with 'Magpies" (with great subtle use of horns!), 'Hard White Wall' and 'Furious'(one of my favorite tracks on the album) being the most upbeat tracks on the album. The rest, such as 'Honor Wishes', 'To Be Lonely' and 'To Survive' (which uses soft strings to accent her voice) are emotionally haunting tracks with deep and meaningful lyrics about acceptance, love and life lessons learned. When asked about the album she said "I've become obsessed with taking stuff out, leaving only the most important elements in place. I got more into blending and integration and subtlety. I just want to be courageous enough to feel and express as much as possible and that means ALL the emotions." With the album mainly focusing on Joan's voice and piano (and a few more instruments here and there), I believe she has done just that.
This is a wonderful album with loads of depth and emotion. This will most definitely be on my top 10 list of albums of the year. Highly recommended.
9 out of 10