The fourth studio album by 43 year old Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman, The Classic sees the Connecticut native enter new territory after a two year break. In what seems to be her ‘Adele-esque’ crossover to the mainstream, the record features a highly spirited and imaginative mix of musical styles, ranging from indie to jazz to rockabilly, thats full of zip and vigour but sadly lacking the emotional intensity of some of her previous work. Opening with a grand exuberance, Joan gets straight to the point with rhythmic, urban-influenced pop numbers like ‘Witness’ and the vivacious single release, ‘Holy City’, tracks that demonstrate a new beginning for an artist renowned for her understated indie ballads. Her slinky vocals are put to good use on the more jazzy numbers like ‘Good Together’, ‘Shame’ and ‘Stay’, while the aptly named, Doo-Wop inspired title track is genuinely one of the most splendid three and a half minutes you’re likely to hear on any album this year.
A criticism that has previously been aimed at Joan is that her records tend to drop off at the mid-point and unfortunately that is once again the case here. Unduly long, repetitive tracks like ‘Get Direct’, ‘Would you Do’, and ‘New Year’s Day’ pale in comparison to some of her previous slow numbers, while some unnecessary production dynamics result in a confused, disjointed sound at points. While her ingenuity cannot be faulted, Wasser’s tendancy to over elaborate at crucial times is her downfall, while the album’s pace and structure remain an issue (surely the delectably dreamy pop offering ‘Ask Me’, could have been used earlier to freshen up proceedings). Not her best work by a long shot then, but an enjoyable – and at times captivating – listen all the same.