Surprisingly sultry and soulful...

Where do you start with Joan Wasser, front woman of New York-based Joan As Police Woman? There's every possibility that you may never have heard of her, but Wasser has been instrumental in raising the profile of the violin in rock music, and had her fingers in the pies of not only rock, but punk, jazz and folk, notching up numerous live and recorded appearances with some big names, including Antony and the Johnsons, Nick Cave, Scissor Sisters, Sebadoh, Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and Nirvana, to name but a few!

Having toured with The Guillemots throughout May (performing solo) Wasser is set to join band mates Rainy Orteca (bass) and Ben Perowsky (drums) for a headline tour and various festival appearances this summer, and it is this trio that form the musical basis for the debut album, 'Real Life'. Considering Wasser's background in bands such as The Dambuilders, Black Beetle and Those Bastard Souls, not to mention the serious-looking rock 'n' roll pout that she sports on the album's cover, you would be forgiven for being more than a little surprised by what 'Real Life' has to offer. "Anger is so easy, and I have been angry for so long," explains Wasser, "but anger only arises from other feelings you're not dealing with. I'm trying to get deeper." This is certainly achieved by the slow, sultry shuffle that pervades the album.

The opener and title-track, 'Real Life' is perhaps the standout song here, and most effectively captures Wasser's aim for her music; "the general feeling these days," Joan claims on her website, " is trust no-one, all the media is lying to you... there's such a sense of distrust in the air. For me, the most subversive you can be these days is to be totally honest, and to really laud beauty." Exploiting this to the max, 'Real Life' is unexpectedly sedated as a piano rocks back and forth gently alongside Wasser's New York accented, tender-yet-powerful vocals and soft strings somewhere in the background.

'Christobel' is faster, more intense and breathless, driven along by faster-paced vocals, shimmering piano, a driving bass line and shuffling drums, while 'Save Me' stands out as a slow-motion rock 'n' roll stomp, accentuated by half-tempo drum beats and Wasser's blues-laced vocals. Yet tracks like 'Flushed Chest', 'Feed The Light' and the fabulous duet with Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) emphasises the beautiful, soulful and simplistic chilled-out vibe that has seen Wasser described as 'Debbie Harry singing Nina Simone'.

If you were expecting raucous rock, you'll be sadly disappointed. But those who enjoy being swept away by sultry, soulful music will be in their element with Joan As Police Woman.