Janet Gardner - 'Janet Gardner'

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Janet Gardner - 'Janet Gardner'

Hopefully, this solo album will resurrect Janet Gardner's recording career in a big way.

It's hard to believe it's been almost thirty years since Vixen's debut album appeared and started a relatively short but highly successful period during the heyday of commercial Melodic Rock. Schoolboy crushes aside, this all-girl band proved that they could Rock just as hard as their contemporaries in a largely male-dominated scene, despite the fact they disbanded in 1991. Their last studio album 'Tangerine', from the revamped line-up, appeared in 1998 which means it's been nineteen long years since we've had any recorded work featuring the sultry vocals of Janet Gardner, therefore this brand-new debut solo album is well overdue.

'Janet Gardner' (the album) has been written and recorded with Gardner's husband, guitarist and producer Justin James (somebody I know little about, apart from the fact he's deputised on bass for Tyketto several times) and more than makes up for the nineteen year hiatus.

Anybody yearning for 'Rev It Up Part Two' is going to be bitterly disappointed, though neither is it a return to the Grunge-tolerating sound of 'Tangerine'. Instead, 'Janet...' is a full-on, in-your-face Hard Rock record that evokes the commerciality of Vixen's past while still embracing a very Contemporary/Alt Rock style that's chock-full of beefy guitar riffs and driving rhythms, encompassing a slightly Industrial sounding production that reminds me of Sixx:AM. However, rather than sounding like an ageing, washed-up singer embarrassing herself by attempting to sound relevant in today's musical climate, Gardner's performance is ballsy and confident, reminiscent of the sparkliness of Lzzy Hale, and totally believable. There may be a little more huskiness to her voice these days, but that simply increases the allure of a singer who still sounds (and looks) amazing for somebody in her mid-fifties!

The gentle ballad 'Best Friend', the stylish 'Let It Be Over' – that's constructed around an A Cappella counterpoint arrangement – and the Vixen-esque 'If You Want Me' are the album's lighter moments, but the rest of this self-titled release abounds with thumping, guitar-based and anthemically catchy Rockers like 'Rat Hole', 'Hippycrite', 'Your Problem Now', 'Lost', 'The Grind' and the quite brilliant album closer 'The Good Or The Bye'.

Only four albums in a near-thirty year career isn't exactly prolific, but hopefully, this solo album will resurrect Janet Gardner's recording career in a big way.

Ant Heeks

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