Rating: 8 out of 10.
When I looked over my options for reviews I didn’t really consider Janet Gardner initially; I was never a fan of Vixen. By the time they came out, my passion for what is now considered glam or hair metal was waning, and being force fed their singles by MTV did not help. Plenty of my friends were fans, but I wasn’t buying it, I always felt they were pushing style of substance, and this is coming from someone that still enjoys listening to Look What The Cat Dragged In by Poison. No fault of the band’s, just the suits behind the scenes thinking about exploiting them.
My first reaction when quickly going through here self-titled debut solo album went from “well we might as well give this a quick listen” to “WTF” and “wow”! I was not expecting to hear what I had just sampled, and I needed to listen to the album in its entirety. This is a ballsy album for Janet to release because there is going to be a good cross section of her audience that isn’t going to be picking up what she’s putting down. This album is heavy, it is not Cradle Of Filth or YOB by any stretch of the imagination, but is a solid heavy hard rock album. It has a lot of the hooks, and melody that she’s known for, but at the same time mixes elements that you’d be more accustomed of hearing from Rob Zombie, Black Label Society or Dope. It is a great mix of 80s melody, and modern hard rock, in a good way. Not your typical “I wanna get this on corporate radio” where an artist is trying to sound like what’s hip today or some other niche, but what Janet and her husband Justin James (who has previously worked with Staind, Collective Soul and Tyketto among others) have crafted, is taking what she is known for and made it heavier. They could have easily just tried recording Edge Of A Broken Heart versions 2, 3 and 4, like so many artists, continue to do, grasping for that one final hit, which will sadly never come. Justin’s playing is also aggressive and over the top where it needs to be to make the songs on the album really stand out. Janet’s voice is just fantastic well, channeling several voices throughout the album, case in point the soulful Let It Be Over.
Much like I have continued to say about Ratt’s Infestation, which I felt back in 2010 to be the blue print for 80s bands to use when putting out a new album (much to Stephen Percy’s chagrin), I can comfortably say the same about this album. If you’ve read my reviews you know I’m not a ballad guy, and there are really just three songs that I don’t think are on the same level as the other seven tracks. Those seven tracks, all really do kick ass, it is one of the best hard rock albums to come out in 2017, and I can see it on my end of year top albums list.
Tracks that stand out to me are Hippycrite, Your Problem Now and The Good Or The Bye.