After starting out as go-to instrumentalist for chamber-pop luminaries like Antony Hegarty and Rufus Wainwright, Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman, blazed her own trail as one of the 21st century’s most alluring soul-pop performers. Over the years she has weaved in and out of Americana lanes, veering into bubblegum pop or electro knob-twiddling or Afrobeat excursions through the years. Her last record, 2016’s Let It Be You, paired her with Brooklyn musician Benjamin Lazar for a set of accessible melodies and harmonies set to skronky beats and synths, like a mellower Tune-Yards. Joan as Police Woman has always mixed tempos and moods on her albums, but for her new album, Damned Devotion, Wasser has stripped her songs further back, using a subtler sonic palette to give her words and her quavering alto a firmer impact. On single “Warning Bell,” a mournful synth in the verse gives way to a chorus of ringing piano as Wasser sings about being a romantic and learning her lessons the hard way. “I can comfortably say that music has saved my life and continues to save my life,” she says. “I am a devotee. It’s not something I can even choose or not choose, it’s just what is.” Damned Devotion comes out Feb. 9 on Play It Again Sam.
Watch Joan as Police Woman perform LIVE at Paste on Monday at 12:30 p.m.!