Joan Wasser has built a staggeringly multifaceted career—taking her violin from New England symphonies to punk bands, joining Antony Hegarty’s Johnsons and becoming a coveted session artist for Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, Elton John and Sheryl Crow. In her Joan as Police Woman persona, she creates Al Green–worthy soul, infused with passion for the day and a mandate to seize it. Wasser’s work mines human experience in all its nuance and reveals the adventurous positivity that she exudes night after night in her dynamic, packed-house performances.
On her latest LP, The Classic, Wasser offers ten jubilant, moody, intimate tracks, including a foray into doo-wop and beat-boxing from Reggie Watts. The year’s most potent out-of-love song, “Good Together,” is a roiling renunciation of misplaced nostalgia that reverses into pining for a “holy night at the back of the bathhouse.” Other tracks dissolve fear and banish shame.
On 2011’s The Deep Field, Wasser sang, “I don’t come with a manual / No, I lost it long ago.” She writes a new one with every song, plotting a sage path for any hungry member of the living.—Kate Crane