The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Friday, June 23, 2006

I love the way Joan Wasser breathes, like she’s breathing not just into my ear, but through it – “’Cos anyone can see through me…but you’re not anyone.”

I love the name Joan As Police Woman, like the tributary of carnality flowing into the ocean of knowing and faithful love.

I love the fact that Paris Hilton could never have come up with the name Joan As Police Woman, never mind the mind.

I love the skittering improvising violin and viola interludes which scrape their way into the gaps between tracks. She was responsible for the astonishing improv intro to Rufus Wainwright’s “Agnus Dei.” In some worlds I would love it if she made a whole album like that.

I love the “YES, YES” panting in the song “Eternal Flame” which is not the Bangles one but the one Jeff Buckley would have written and recorded had he lived long enough to write and record a song entitled “Eternal Flame.” Those deliciously unstable guitars, the extremity of register in the backing vocals. But I love that “YES, YES” in between the labial folds of “I wanna have you now” and “I wanna go there” and “I wanna show you how.”

I love how the doomed love song “Christobel” begins with a Go-Betweens fast shuffle and then morphs into a Sam Phillips Sings Suzanne Vega glittering 1991 oasis of blue singing pop.

I love how it then divides into that sinister two-piano motif and this guitar-like electric violin solo – capped again by a rapid “Yes!”

I love how songs like “Feed The Light” and “The Ride” are so nearly Norah Jones, but remixed and re-sung by the Annette Peacock who tried to be a pop star – the breaths, the confidential whispers, the hand on the nape of what matters.

I love how even “We Don’t Own It,” the nearest this album gets to dull Norah, revolves and depends entirely upon that mid-song axis of “he’s still going on” as it dissolves into that dread-full whisper which seems to devour the listener’s head.

I love how the Antony duet – for you know there had to be one – “I Defy” defies reports of the passing of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, how they gloriously feed off one another’s passion:
- Antony: “In my dark days, did you fear for me?”
- Joan: “I don’t want to see my baby fall”
answered IMMEDIATELY by a Cecil Taylor fists-on-piano cascade
“Now I’m kissing the real you – how could it be different?”

I love how the multiple Antonys suddenly materialise at the end of the song and colonise it.

I love the tightrope between wanting (“Save me!”) and needing (“Take me!”) is delineated in whispers of such gossamer depth on the song “Save Me.” But not “if you’re already good as gone…I don’t want to live for tomorrow.”

I love the song “Anyone,” a raw post-F Apple 6/8 torch ballad, its pleas verging on demands of “Try me please/I’m a better dancer than it seems” merging into the blissful honesty of “The lightest floating feather is how I feel when I’m with you. So now that I know you, I’m ready to show you how good I feel.”

I love that gorgeous major to minor shift under the word “anyone” as though she’s leaning down to bestow my brow with grace.

I love how this sounds like one of my lost letters: “I don’t hear it now – the chaos that surrounds me. You – YOU hold my mind’s desire (the world could spin on that second YOU). You give me shelter…/Tucked into the warmth of you.”

I love the not-at-all painful sustenato of the word “start” in the line “I’m ready to start to be ready.”

I love the Linda Perhacs NOW of the line “So hold me NOW/You who come in pieces.”

I love, perhaps most of all, the title song, “Real Life.” A simple but not simplistic piano and ‘cello waltz, but…

I love how I shiver in quavering recognition of the words: “I watch the numbers register on the postal scale. I think of your hands and calculate how a man desired feels the weight of a letter” oh GOD HOW DID SHE KNOW

I love how I then think: “and isn’t, when it all comes to all, what music is about, what music can do that no other art can even imagine, to tap into somebody’s emotions and lay them out so perfectly and precisely that one is left with no option save to gasp – for the newly-donated oxygen?”

I love how you then speak through Joan As Police Woman: “So take the chance…be reckless with me…’cos I’m real life and you’re real life and we’re real life” – sung like she cannot believe it’s happened.

I love the cloudy wanderings of her soul through fragments of: “Is it crazy? 600,000 miles and all this solitude” and “What I’ll find beneath your new pair of glasses.”

I love most of all how she bends her feather breath, pulls the listener in by my collar, clings to me and lowers the world down to her scarcely-containable whisper: “I’ve never included a name in a song/But I’m changing my ways for you Jonathan” and the way EVERYTHING dissolves so warmly into that arbitrary string of syllabic breath within which is contained the breathless word “Jonathan” is one of the most profound passages in sung music of recent times. “I need to know – I need YOU to know – that I’m real life,” Joan concludes, and she falters on that last “life” in the same way as Michael Jackson does on “She’s Out Of My Life.” Except, of course, she isn’t.

I love how this performance, this record, this woman now gives me that final streak of confidence needed to address the woman who reads this.

I love my first-remove confessional of: “It’s true what they say about me/That I’m out of my mind/But I think that you like it.”

I love how she does not phrase that phrase rhetorically.

I love. You love me.


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