relevance to what people are thinking about right now. In the post-9/11 world, I just felt like I couldn't ignore all of that."
So there she was, ready to make a record full of great soul tunes. Okay, what next? How in the world do you pick twelve songs out of infinite possibilities? The political edge was the key. "I think if I had set out to just make a soul record, if that were the only focus I had, it would have been impossible. But I really did want to focus on things that had some relevance to the political and social climates that we're in right now, like the fact that the war machine is grinding up again. I wanted to sing about those things. I wanted to have songs that expressed this real, renewed appreciation [people have] of each other…this community spirit or whatever you want to call it, that people have within themselves and they're looking for a way to [express]," Joan offers thoughtfully, turning her hazel-green gaze downward.
Glancing back up, she adds, "I haven't made this thing that's a polemical document where you have to sit down with a thesaurus to research and understand it. You could put this record on and listen to it start to finish with no political thought in your head and still enjoy it as the music." When I compliment her on striking a great balance, she replies, "Thank you. I worked hard for that balance. We don't live in a vacuum. We live in a particular time where particular things are happening. I wanted to try to address it in whatever small way I could."
Small to Joan is pretty great for the rest of us. She sings the hell out of these tunes. I tell Joan that her version of "How Sweet It Is" kicks James Taylor's butt, and she cracks up. "I really wanted to make that into an erotic thing, where it's almost scary how much you care about someone." As for the other cuts: "I was scared to take on some of these songs. You're never going to out-do the original. So I really tried to approach these like: "Okay, the definitive version of these songs already exists." I'm trying to find where the song and my voice intersect to really bring something new to life."
And she certainly succeeded. Joan's voice sits so