Album review: Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Let It Be You

Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis

Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Credit: Archant

Joan Wasser marks 10 years in showbiz with this cool, classy collaboration.

Not many collaborations can have crystallised over a shared love of the musical patterns of pygmy music emanating from the Central African Republic.

But soulful soloist Joan Wasser and fellow Brooklynite and multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Lazar Davis initially bonded over this specialist interest after separate trips to Africa.

Let It Be You is loosely inspired by these rhythms - but you’d struggle to spot it.

Recent single Broke Me In Two introduces the record’s overarching aesthetic, lacing crunchy electronica and treated instrumentation through simple riffs and motifs with Wasser’s distinctively soulful, leaping voice injecting essential soul and heart.

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It’s a love song with a pop heart in a less traditional mould, paving the way for the accessible and surprisingly poppy Overloaded, which introduces Davis’ nondescript vocal and is painted with blocky, primary-coloured synth notes and a melody that lolls gently from side to side.

When they join one another in vocal interplay, Wasser sounds even more exotic next to Davis’ flat and smooth delivery.

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Although the stuttering, programmed percussion is taken a step too far in Motorway, the rest is consistently, coolly intriguing.

The title track pops and struts with the attitude of a Fashion Week runway model, while at the other end of the scale is six-minute closer Station, which delivers the album’s most portentous atmospherics. Its delicate, intimate guitar-and-vocal beginning breaks into dramatic, cymbal-heavy drums, vocal and instrumental notes that are stretched over a slow and ominous rhythm, tantalising the hairs on the back of the neck. Pygmy patterns in evidence or not, this is an impressive set.

Rating: 4/5

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