Live Review – Joan As Police Woman at the Bootleg Theater 5/27/11

Photo by Wheelzwheeler courtesy of flickr’s creative commons.

Friday night last, at the Bootleg on Beverly, Joan as Police Woman served notice, if not subpoenas, that music can not only tame the savage beast – it can send it prowling the city streets and the darkened corners of rooms and memories, and conversations with old and new lovers, and even ones self, about what was and what could be – if only love was there with whip and chair in hand.

Or maybe just a tender, beckoning glance.

There are a lot of talented artists in the world. Not all of them necessarily take their art to some identifiably higher level – or come at it from a recognizably unique angle.

Musically and lyrically Joan Wasser does both.

Whether she stood at the keyboard or sat at the piano, or strapped a guitar across those sexy leather clad shoulders, Joan as Police Woman was either telling the enthusiastic audience something she felt they never quite knew about life (but needed to) or else was twisting life into shapes or dimensions they perhaps never knew it could reach.

Playing a set drawing heavily from her most recent release, The Deep Field, Wasser and her band-mates (drummer extraordinaire Parker Kindred and synthesizer, Moog bassist Tyler Wood, ex of Chester French, and as fiery a keyboardist as the smoke and heat detectors could handle ) found no handcuffs were required to lead the crowd wherever they wanted to take them.

Making use of dreamlike, haunting melodies that teased until they found some never previously felt groove that lifted the broken heart that everyone hides, Wasser’s vocals and the exquisite harmonies Kindred and Wood added at the perfect places seemed to shift from being songs to moans, to mantras and back to songs again. Think Al Green and Sade teaching William Blake about how to funk up both experience and innocence and you’ll begin to get the picture.

But the music wasn’t all that the evening offered.

Wasser crafts lyrics that seem almost simply straightforward until you listen from someplace deeper than you ever expected and find that someone has pushed the ‘Basement’ button on the elevator to your subconscious  and you are suddenly knowing stuff you didn’t know you knew about things as basic as love, and loss, and longing – and just plain living.

Wasser has composed one of the great heart wrenching torch songs of recent music with Save Me, off 2007’s brilliant debut Real Life.

But if one expected, here I plead guilty, for that body shot straight out of the clavinet to overpower her newer material – one would have been, delightedly, dead wrong. The already strong songs from The Deep Field turned into knockout punches of their own as arranged and performed by Wasser and Mssrs. Kindred and Wood. As one nearby audience member remarked to her friends, ‘How many different ways can she come at you?’

How many indeed?

At this point in time Joan (as Police Woman) Wasser is an extremely talented artist creating and performing at the height of her chosen medium.

Many thanks to her including Los Angeles among her stops this tour – let’s hope she stops back this way again soon.

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