Joan Wasser started out as a back-up musician for the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons but her megawatt charisma decreed that she would step out front in her own right, adopting a stage name inspired by Angie Dickinson’s Police Woman character.
Joan As Police Woman, St Luke’s, Glasgow ****
She is a musical shape-shifter, most recently touring these parts as a synth duo with Benjamin Lazar Davis but this was Wasser in solo serenading mode, milking the notes, charming all with her playful chat and silencing the room to such a degree that you could hear the gurgling sound effects from the bar.
“Who’s doing the lights?” she purred. “Could it be a little darker?” And so the lights were dimmed to complement the initially sombre, rather one-note mood.
Switching to guitar, she began to colour her set with minimal but warm tones, adding a slow, inexorable drum machine pattern and an almost devotional vocal delivery to achieve the richer bluesiness of Flashand a knowingly cheesy cha-cha rhythm to the assured sashay of Human Condition.
We Don’t Own It, inspired by seeing Elliott Smith perform, is her Killing Me Softly. Better still, there were Rufus resonances and even a touch of Paul Simon in the lyricism of To Be Loved, and her own plaintive Christobel dovetailed nicely with a cover of Blur’s beautiful Out of Time, injecting some lightness to her moody blues.
If their stars had aligned, you could imagine Prince going all guns to get Wasser in his band, reeled in like everyone else by her low-key but groovy rendition of Kiss.