01 - Joan As Police Woman - Honor My Wishes.mp3 (Size: 81.47 MB) (Files: 11)
01 - Joan As Police Woman - Honor My Wishes.mp3
02 - Joan As Police Woman - Holiday.mp3
03 - Joan As Police Woman - To Be Loved.mp3
04 - Joan As Police Woman - To Be Lonley.mp3
05 - Joan As Police Woman - Magpies.mp3
06 - Joan As Police Woman - Start Of My Heart.mp3
07 - Joan As Police Woman - Hard White Wall.mp3
08 - Joan As Police Woman - Furious.mp3
09 - Joan As Police Woman - To Survive.mp3
10 - Joan As Police Woman - To America.mp3
Joan As Police Woman - To Survive .m3u
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Joan Wasser experienced nearly every high and low that the music industry and life in general has to offer en-route to the release of her debut album, Real Life, in 2006. The ups hit their pinnacle when she played an integral part of Anthony And The Johnsons' success in 2005, the downs descended to their lowest point when her then-boyfriend, Jeff Buckley, tragically died in 1997. Little wonder then, that Real Life was an album of extreme emotion, topped off with the simply stunning and utterly heartbreaking Eternal Flame.
So the making of the traditionally difficult second album must have seemed a little less daunting to Wasser. Indeed, her only problem seems to have been finding time to actually get into a studio to record it, as the gathering momentum around her career has seen her tour Real Life for the best part of 18 months.
Thankfully, time was carefully managed, and To Survive is everything that a fan of that delicious debut could have hoped for – a piano-led exploration of love and life, that drips with sophistication.
The lead single, To Be Loved, is typical of what's on offer, a slinky downbeat number that slides around your soul, leaving you more than satisfied.
It is, by no means, the only beauty on offer. To Be Lonely is a subtle splendour, Wasser's voice curling around a simple piano melody, while the title track picks up a similar thread, its delicacy adorned with a lick or two of luscious strings.
Elsewhere, Magpies, with its breezy brass and references to Joan of Arc, is a gentle revelation, as is the equally impressive Hard White Wall, a meandering delight that peaks and troughs in thrilling style.
But it is the closing To America that really bursts out of the collection. An opus to her homeland which is at once both indignant and celebratory, it features Rufus Wainwright and could easily stand as a sister piece to his own Going To A Town.
Joan Wasser had plenty to do to equal the brilliance of her debut, but in To Survive, she has done just that, cementing her status as as an intriguing and compelling artist.
Upon its release two years ago, Joan As Police Woman’s debut album Real Life reaped great acclaim from certain quarters. The first ‘solo’ project of Joan Wasser (as much as they are in fact a trio, Parker Kindred recently stepping in on drums), it saw her step out from the shadows of contemporaries such as Antony Hegarty and Rufus Wainwright (both of whom she’s sung back-up for) with a startling collection of songs; from the luminescent splendour of ‘The Ride’ through to the devastating emotional impact of closer ‘We Don’t Own It’ (about and dedicated to friend Elliott Smith) it yielded countless replays, quietly converting a number who may have been put off by the fearsome, misguided ‘coffee table’ tag, through its enduring quality. Guy Garvey of Elbow considers its title track one of the finest written in recent years, and while I’m inclined to agree with him, the fact that said tune isn’t even the strongest on the record speaks volumes.
So it’s not without a sense of excited trepidation I approach To Survive, though a recent show in London that found the band relaxed and on fine form went some way towards allaying my fears. Lead single ‘To Be Loved’ (it’s all about prepositions on this effort – two pairs of songs on the album all sharing the aforementioned) is deceptively light and frothy, Wasser’s words tumbling from the speakers most agreeably, bright keys and shimmering guitars perfectly complementing. For all that the more up-tempo numbers like this gradually, insidiously make their way under your skin, it’s when Wasser lays herself bare (metaphorically of course, though it’s surely no accident that she appears literally so on the album’s cover) that this truly, resoundingly affects.
Take for example, subsequent sister song, ‘To Be Lonely’. Against a backdrop of minimally struck piano later embellished by strings and deep, swelling backing vocals, Wasser’s voice wavers with tremulous, magnificent effect. Throughout both albums she has managed to sound simultaneously vulnerable yet imbued with wearily resolute strength, and on To Survive’s soaring title track (the penultimate on the album) her intonations – “Sleep now little one / I know how it feels to be sad” – culminate in a twinkling, profound upturn, as bolstered by naught but her piano and violin, she finds the “spark” that she needs – that we all do – to survive. Foreshadowing this: “I’ll brave the night alone / The dark, uncertain skies / I’ll make it through”. A slow-burning, graceful ballad, it also showcases her unique ear for melody, whereby the lugubrious tones and minor chords employed gradually reveal themselves greater than the sum of their constituent parts, whether this be through an initially unnoticed key change or decisive, unexpected lyric.
Which isn’t to detract from the other highlights on display – the enveloping synthesizers upon which ‘Start Of My Heart’ floats forth, Rainy Orteca’s addictive basslines or the questioning, shuffling thrust of opening track ‘Honour My Wishes’. The best, however, is saved for last, following the corner Wasser turned on the title track. Rufus Wainwright takes the star guest spot (capably handled by Antony on Real Life) on the closing ‘To America’. Coming across very much a modern take on West Side Story replete with fine vocal performances from its central pair, sweeping strings and ebullient brass, it’s a jubilant finale to an album that, while never quite surpassing the evocative beauty of the band’s first, matches it with a keen flourish.
If To Survive is any indication, Joan Wasser's life after Real Life is calmer, but no less thoughtful, than it was before her beautifully stormy debut album. Real Life was a major statement, filled with a lifetime's worth of catharsis. To Survive doesn't try for that scope — as the title suggests, these songs are about day to day concerns that are no less vital: aloneness, togetherness, love, hope, and righteous anger. However, Joan as Police Woman's "beauty is the new punk rock" aesthetic is used just as powerfully here, with the same kind of delicate bravery and strong vulnerability. Wasser can still set a scene like few others: "Honor Wishes" drops listeners into a sultry heart to heart, and the way she draws out "Would you love me? Would you trust me?" as she sings is as wounded as it is seductive, turning the song into a dance of understanding between two people in the middle of the night. A pair of songs make up To Survive's heart: "To Be Loved" is hopeful but bittersweet, celebrating new love and recognizing what it took to get to it with soulful brass and realizations like "when you found me I could not be loved, but then I found me and I'm happy to be loved." "To Be Lonely" is bittersweet but hopeful, wishing for lasting love with hypnotic, incantation-like simplicity and yearning pianos. These mirror image songs reveal the yin-yang chase of love and loneliness so well and so intimately that everything else on To Survive could be mediocre and it'd still be well worth hearing, but the rest of the album is nearly as strong. The easy, elegant sensuality that peeked out on Real Life from time to time is in full flower here, playfully on "Holiday" and more insistently on "Hard White Wall," where soft harmonies and keyboards contrast with driven rhythm guitars. Rebirth and gratitude are also major themes on To Survive, and though it's often more challenging to write about happiness in a meaningful way, Wasser finds unique ways to channel those feelings on the luminous tribute "Start of My Heart." Sonically speaking, To Survive is softer and cleaner than Real Life, in keeping with its more serene outlook. This works especially well on "Magpies'" sparkling melody, but the polished production distances some of the album's more intense moments, as on the politically charged "Furious," where Wasser's outrage and impatience feel a bit removed. To Survive is most affecting with songs like "To Survive," when it feels like you're sitting next to her on her piano bench. While Real Life was so fully realized that it seemed to have a life of its own, To Survive feels more like songs written by somebody than something that materialized because it had to. On those terms, the album is very, very good, and when it closes with fireworks on "To America," it might not be a completely happy ending, but it shows that in order to survive real life, it's necessary to embrace the uplifting parts of it as well as the desperate ones.
Artist/Band: Joan As Police Woman
Album: To Survive
Release Date: 2008
Genre: Altpop, Altfolk, Chamberpop, Singer-Songwriter
Bitrate: VBR --alt-preset extreme