Janet Gardner review 2017
By Cathy Moore of Moore Rock Shots & Reviews
I can vividly remember back in the day when my sister and I would drive around with the radio blaring and singing our hearts out to Vixen songs. We knew every word (and probably still do) to those mega hits “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin’’’ and most of the rest of their debut self-titled album from 1988. When I heard that Janet Gardner, the lead vocalist of this badass and beloved band from my past, was about to debut a solo album on August 18 I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Teaming up with guitarist/songwriter/producer Justin James (who has worked with members of Staind, Collective Soul, and Tyketto), Gardner ventured into the solo realm to unleash a new side of her musical creativity. Together, Janet and Justin have penned a collection of emotionally charged songs with gritty grooves, infectious hooks, and inspired lyrics that merge hard rock influences from the last four decades. The result is a perfect blend of modern hard rock with a touch of old school flare that will turn the heads of generations of rock fans.
You know you are in for a fun and fantastic ride when the CD starts off with circus music and then just slams into a hard rock vibe with Gardner’s vocals hitting just as hard and heavy as ever before. This first track “Rat Hole” is a crazy cool song with a plethora of unique elements that make you feel like you are caught in a musical fun house.
“If You Want Me” had a definite flavor of the Vixen era. I could almost picture Gardner with her big hair and leather outfit belting this one out – and that isn’t a bad thing. This is the sound that made millions of people fall in love with Gardner’s voice so paying homage to that style and sound is imperative.
“Let It Be Over” pairs hypnotic choral background harmonies with Gardner’s powerhouse vocals to deliver passionate lyrics about the sorry state of our society with lines like “Mowing down kids in the classroom. Where did he get that kind of gun?” She urges us to “work together”, “find a better way”, and “make a change.” It’s a really moving and motivating song.
Gardner tones things down for track 8, which is an acoustic ballad called “Best Friend”. This tune really showcases the chemistry between Gardner and Justin James. It’s a poignant and pretty song and probably my favorite on the whole album because it really gets down to what these two do best.
Janet Gardner has once again proven herself as a leader in the female-fronted hard rock world. This album is full of fun and feisty fabulousness. It brings a sense of nostalgia with a little bit of that Vixen sound, but also a modern sound that will be relevant in the rock world today. More information about Gardner’s self-titled debut solo album, upcoming tour dates, and more can be found on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JanetGardnerofficial/.