There is a particular type of pressure that comes with covering classic songs. It takes someone who not only has a vast musical knowledge but also someone who has the talent to take the songs apart and make them their own. Joan As Police Woman is one such musician and is the brainchild of Joan Wasser, a singer-songwriter, musician and producer, and has previously played the Dambuilders and Antony and the Johnsons. In 2004, she released her solo material, and after seven studio albums, one EP and a cover album, she drops another cover album, Cover 2.
Cover 2 is, unsurprisingly, the follow up to her 2009 cover album Cover. Just like her own music history, the music on that album spanned decades and genres and included covers of tracks from David Bowie and Britney Spears. Cover 2 is made in the same vain and hits a few more folk and funk notes than Cover.
When it comes to covers, there are some songs that you should just avoid. Some songs are too difficult to replicate, some are just not well known enough, and others are the biggest tracks in musical history. “Kiss” is the latter. Joan As Policewoman slowly starts the album with a cover of the Prince classic. While the original boasted wild guitar and bass lines, she has stripped it back with a slow bass, En Vogue-esque harmonies, and a tempo that is even more ridiculously suggestive that the original (if that is even possible). For those that are looking for a track you can dance to, you have come to the wrong place. But if you are looking for something sultry and sensitive, give this a listen.
Covering a song is all about taking the best bits and showcasing them with your own talent. Joan As Policewoman has such an in-depth knowledge of her own musical style, and she also understands that while Cass McCombs music is clever in its own right and it’s his lyrics that really drag the listener in. With a low drone, her voice rises above to concentrate your ears on the lyrics. There is a lovely texture to this track, which is like the ruggedness found in McCombs’ style. It is raw and intuitive with a string section that mimics that of Joni Mitchell to create a track that is both cognitively engaging and relaxing all at the same time.
Some voices are just synonymous with certain genres, like Michael McDonald’s silky tones belonging to the soul category. And when you’re creating a cover of a track by said artist, it can be hard to deviate away from the original sound. “I Keep Forgetting” is taken from its original ballad form and has morphed into something that is slinky and sexy. While it is removed from the original, the backing vocals through a hint of McDonald’s voice into the mix, keeping some of its original wonder.
Cover albums are tricky and require a ton of confidence, and Joan As Police Woman does it without so much as an ounce of self-deprecation or self-conscious, that I’m jealous. While this album is indeed a cover album, it shows off her musical majesty to create a cover album that surprisingly original.