Joan As Police Woman’s ‘Real Life’ is ten years old this month


Joan As Police Woman‘s debut album Real Life was released a little over ten years ago in the UK by Reveal Records.

The ‘band’ (moniker inspired by the 1970s Angie Dickinson TV series Police Woman) is really a stage name for American musician and songwriter Joan Wasser.

Originally a violinist, Wasser played classical music in Orchestras when she was young before exploring punk and the guitar. A decade before Real Life was issued Joan was going out with Jeff Buckley when he tragically drowned in the Mississippi river. The grief and soul searching resulted in her forming a band, Black Beetle, with the remaining members of Buckley’s group and they would record an album (which has never been released).

Wasser played the violin for Antony and the Johnsons in the early noughties and she toured with Rufus Wainwright in 2004, the same year a Joan As Police Woman six-track EP was issued. Two years later the 10-track debut album was released to much critical acclaim and the first single Christobel got a fair amount of airplay on UK radio station BBC 6Music.

Real Life a beautiful record and below are two selections from it, The Ride and an intimate solo performance of moving album closer We Don’t Own It (which was written for Elliot Smith).

In 2007 a limited edition double-CD edition of Real Life was issued that included six B-sides on the bonus disc. It’s worth trying to track that down, although even the standard CD looks to be out of print. Discogs or eBay may be your best bet!

If you already have this would love to hear from you, so do leave a comment.


Real Life
Real Life – 4:38
Eternal Flame – 3:39
Feed the Light – 3:41
The Ride – 3:09
I Defy (with Antony Hegarty) – 3:32
Flushed Chest – 3:55
Christobel – 3:06
Save Me – 3:44
Anyone – 4:50
We Don’t Own It – 3:55
The 2-CD bonus tracks:

“Show Me the Life – 2:32
Broken Eyes – 2:48
Sweet Thing (David Bowie cover) – 3:13
Happiness Is a Violator (For Condoleezza Rice) – 1:53
Endless Supply of Poison – 0:52
We Don’t Own It – 4:04

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Wasser also served in Those Bastard Souls. Their sole major-label album, 1999’s Debt & Departure, is very good.


It’s been a while since I’ve played the album, but “Eternal Flame” is one of my favorite songs of the Aughts. I saw her do a very nice, intimate gig in Chicago 2011.


I bought my copy of Real Life from Joan herself having been floored by a wonderful early show at the New Roscoe in Leeds. I was hooked from then on and have seen her many many times over the last ten years. A true artist and talent and long may she continue.


Appreciate the reminder, SDE – pulling out the vinyl now…


Joan was in a great band called The Dambuilders in the early 1990s. Their album Encendedor is worth checking out.

Tom of FIN

Cheers for that, Chucky. A Wasser early career revelation. The vinyl one at least a must hear/buy by the band!

Paul Anthony

Also Joan was a member of Mind Science of The Mind, along with Nathan Larson (Shudder to Think), Kevin March (Dambusters and STT) and Mary Timony (Helium). It’s really worth a listen…it’s as crazy as a box of frogs.


I love Joan! First saw her supporting Rufus Wainwright (and singing and playing in his band) in 2005 and was instantly hooked. Have seen her many times since then. She’s such an original singer/songwriter AND a super nice human being. Can’t believe ‘Real Life’ is already 10 years old – still a bit too early for the super deluxe edition treatment I guess?


I have it on vinyl, bought in 2006 from Newt records (wherever that was).


Or you can buy it direct from Reveal Records for £2.95: http://revealrecords.bigcartel.com/product/joan-as-police-woman-real-life-cd-album


I agree. I picked up To Survive in a thrift store for $2 and found the 1st one & The Classic on ebay for $4 w/free shipping. This might be meant for the super fan


Joan recorded an album of duets with David Sylvian back in 2012 that sadly remains unfinished as far as I know due to the latter’s health problems around that time. Maybe some tracks will be included on his forthcoming vocal album?


Yes, been patiently awaiting this release. Loved their duet on Steve Jansen’s ‘Slope’ [Ballad of a Deadman].


The song Real Life is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful ‘love’ songs ever.
“‘Cause, I’m Real Life” – so true.


You wonder who would actually pay £58.49 even if it is new for this when theres a lot of used copies for 90 pence.


I have this. And all her other albums. Love them! About time for a new album I think – it’s been a couple of years since The Classic.


EW99 – new album on its way! Recorded with Benjamin Lazar Davis, and called ‘Let It Be You’ – out 21 October and eight UK tour dates too ….. very welcome and looking forward to it ….


Tour dates!!! Ooooohhhhhh…..

elliott buckingham

available from under £6 via amazon sellers