Janet Gardner is a name many hard rock fans will be familiar with. Best known as the lead vocalist of the all-female rock band Vixen, Janet Gardner‘s powerful vocals propelled Vixen to the top of the Billboard charts with crossover hits “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin”. Touted as the all-female Bon Jovi, Vixen opened for the likes of Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, The Scorpions, KISS, and Bon Jovi.
Teaming up with husband/guitarist/songwriter/producer Justin James (having worked with Staind, Collective Soul, Tyketto), Janet Gardner has ventured into the solo realm to unleash a new side of her musical creativity. The album simply titled Janet Gardner, was made available in August courtesy of Pavement Entertainment. Upon first seeing the announcement basically the cover art, I was intrigued. Not even sure why. But curiosity killed the cat I guess they say.
JANET GARDNER – Janet Gardner
The first few moments of lead track “Rat Hole” are shocking. Not at all what I expected. Although not really sure what my expectation was. Was expecting a little more Vixen-esque I guess. It starts out heavy with an industrial sounding groovy “Na na na” refrain. And in the first line or so Gardner delivers a prominent f-bomb. Didn’t see any of that coming. Great song though. Really love the heaviness to it and Gardner exhibits a throaty snarling growl that fits perfectly. Check out the official video for “Rat Hole” below.
From there the album seems a bit “all over the place”. Maybe a melting pot is a better adjective. The industrial flared Rob Zombie-ish modern rock seems to overpower the rest. The heavy industrial feeling on cuts like “Your Problem Now” and on “The Grind” resonates long after the listening is finished. The track “If You Want Me” certainly could fit into those 80s issued Vixen albums. Same could be said for “Candle”, although this song annoys me for a reason I can’t quite discern. It seems almost odd when the heart-wrenching ballad, “Best Friend” enters later on in the album. Very out of place and certainly more along the Vixen-esque lines I was expecting.
Overall, it’s a pretty good listen. Gardner certainly makes a statement out of the gates and there seems to be a lot of aggression in here. Frankly, she seems pissed. That always makes for good metal in my books. Just don’t come here looking for the next Vixen album.