Janet Gardner - 'Your Place In The Sun'

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Janet Gardner - 'Your Place In The Sun'

'Janet Gardner' was a bold first step into a solo career, but 'Your Place In The Sun' is a huge leap forward.

It took some guts for Janet Gardner to announce her departure from Vixen at the start of this year, the band with which she made her name and had fronted since 1984, as they are still a popular draw on the nostalgia circuit. However, Vixen have not recorded any new material since 1998's 'Tangerine', so when Gardner released her self-titled debut solo album in 2017 it clearly gave her the confidence to step out on her own. 2019 sees the release of her sophomore effort 'Your Place In The Sun' which is once again recorded in collaboration with Janet's husband Justin James, a jack-of-all-trades who co-writes, plays guitar and produces.

The debut album was something of a shock to those expecting Melodic Rock in the vein of Vixen with its heavily guitar-driven, ballsy, in-your-face, Contemporary Rock style, and to some extent 'Your Place In The Sun' continues that characteristic. However, while I really enjoyed the debut release, I feel that the grittiness and fire it exuded was a statement of intent that Gardner could compete in the current musical climate, so with perhaps a hint of agitation about that in mind, the follow-up has a far more relaxed and confident feel; the heaviness has been reined in slightly and the tunes are, to these ears anyway, less intense and clearly more melodic.

Don't get me wrong, the likes of the title-track, 'Standing', 'You Said', 'Web' and 'Flame Thrower' still Rock like bitches, but elsewhere the album is complemented by the catchy-as-hell Pop Rock of 'Assassinate', 'Unconditionally' and 'Without You', the groove of 'Kicks Me Back' and 'Should Have Known', and the brilliantly mid-tempo 'A Way To Your Heart'; all of these songs are abundant with catchy melodies and big choruses. The album's sole ballad is 'Try' and being a sucker for a good ballad this one really struck a chord with me.

As I stated in my review of the debut release, Janet Gardner still looks fabulous, still sounds amazing, and she seems to have found the perfect partner in her life and career with James whose guitar playing sparkles throughout. 'Janet Gardner' was a bold first step into a solo career, but 'Your Place In The Sun' is a huge leap forward.

Ant Heeks

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