Joan as Police Woman Celebrates New Album at Rough Trade NYC

February 27th, 2018

Joan as Police Woman – Rough Trade NYC – February 26, 2018

(Photo: David A. Fitschen)

Joan Wasser has been creating music by the stage name Joan as Police Woman for more than a decade, but her life before then was already remarkable. Largely a violinist, first with the Dambuilders, she joined Antony and the Johnsons and then toured with the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Joseph Arthur. Her voyage into solo work was largely an answer to the sudden death of then boyfriend Jeff Buckley—more than two decades ago—as a coping mechanism. Fast-forward to Wasser’s fifth studio album, Damned Devotion, which she celebrated with an album-release party last night at Rough Trade NYC.

Playing the newly released record front to back, the singer-songwriter donned red leather pants and opened with the downtempo groove of “Wonderful.” It was refreshing to see a seasoned artist in her element sharing her latest work without too much nervousness, but rather a genuine thankfulness for the collective that helped produced the work. Throughout the set, she expressed her gratitude for everyone from session players to those who helped with videos and artwork.

Wasser also shared inspirations for songs, like how a recording from last year’s Women’s March turned into “The Silence” and a quote from her dad, who passed last year, became “What Was It Like.” Music has indeed become the solace for loved ones who have died. Her all-male band of drummer Parker Kindred, bassist Jacob Silver, and keyboardist Jared Samuels provided a backing choir on the album’s closing tracks. Without leaving the stage, an encore of fan favorites “Eternal Flame” and “Run For Love” concluded the festivities. —Sharlene Chiu