Album review: Joan As Police Woman

Joan As Police Woman - Joanthology (PIAS)

A MAMMOTH 43 tracks, spanning 13 years, including two new recordings, as well as 10 tracks recorded for a BBC6 Music session, this is as expansive and exhaustive a Joan As Policewoman anthology as is possible.

For die-hards, the BBC album and new tracks - the self-penned ‘What A World’, and her astonishing cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’, which transforms the Purple One's electro-funk classic into slow, soulful, blues - are the selling points.

Conversely, these are also the attraction, and easiest entry points, for neophytes, to get a good grounding in Joan Wasser's music, which is rooted in soul, with elements of singer-songwriter (the haunting piano ballad 'Real Life' ), and indie-rock ('Christobel' ). Indeed the Live At The BBC album, as part of this anthology, is ideal for digesting the many sides of her abilities.

The energetic 'Human Condition' is an absolute highlight, showing her mastery of, and natural affinity with, the soul form, while 'The Silence' draws on soul's protest heritage, but updates that to stand with contemporary issues, making the chant of "My body, my choice! Her body her choice!" a powerful and elevating moment.

Similarly, her creativity runs strong in how she re-imagines the songs of others. Sonic Youth's 'Sacred Trickster' becomes a street chant with percussion, while the furious hip hop of Public Enemy's 'She Watch Channel Zero' is turned into a compelling hybrid of soul infused indie rock and grunge.

Joanthology is an epic, often daunting, adventure, but one well worth undertaking.

Joan As Policewoman plays St Nicholas' Collegiate Church on Monday July 15 at 9pm, as part of the Galway International Arts Festival. For tickets see www.giaf.ie

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