Joan as Police Woman - Damned Devotion; The Brooklyn alt-soul singer sends an anti-Valentine card

From The Arts Desk Joan Wasser - aka Joan as Police Woman - has a reputation as one of the coolest women in rock. Look beyond the strong-female image, though, and you'll find a soul plagued by sensitivity and pain. That's the basis of Damned Devotion. It's a heartbreak hotel of an album. And down in the bar, they are playing sleazy electro-pop and Seventies soul. Or to put it another way, the new album mixes the styles of her previous three. Languid, smoky vocals sit on top of arrangements that are so sparse, it's almost disarming. Apparently, the songwriting process began with Wasser improvising over a drum machine. It's easy to imagine how the demos must have sounded. Only the bare minimum

CD: Saxon - Thunderbolt The veteran metallers' new one is heavy and full of heart

From The Arts Desk One complaint often made about contemporary music is it's either too worthy or too bland. Not Saxon. The vintage rockers have been around for 40 years and their latest effort is as red-blooded and full-fat as ever. Vocals screech and guitars crunch with machine-like force. Most importantly, Biff and the boys still know how to excite your inner 14-year-old. Like much classic metal, Thunderbolt eschews the grim tedium of everyday existence while remaining faithful to the band's working-class roots. As such, there's a strange emotional substance to the album's other-worldly lyrics. Subjects include mythological gods, vampires, wizards and a few frazzled roadies. Then there's

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