Throughout a long career, Joan Jett has established herself as the queen of rock and roll since her very early starts with all female teenage band The Runaways. This is not only due to her music but her looks and the badass punk rocker attitude that has turned her into the rockstar she is nowadays.
After that, her solo career with her band The Blackhearts threw some hits, some of them were cover songs, like ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ or ‘Crimson And Clover’ and others, like ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’, were composed by Joan Jett herself.
This year, the singer came back with a brand new record, Unvarnished, the tenth on her career and first studio album after Sinner from 2006.
Honestly, for such a long wait, the album is not mind blowing, but it’s good. Jett has a trademark voice and sound and she clearly knows it and takes advantage of it in a good way.
‘Any Weather’ is a good kick to open the album. After seeing her playing ‘Bad Reputation’ with Foo Figthers during the Lollapalooza festival in Santiago in 2012, there is no surprise when you realise that Dave Grohl co –wrote the song that’s the first single of this new album and actually, you can hear Grohl’s hand in some passages of the song.
‘TMI’ is another track we could hear live during Jett’s show in Chile but the best ones of the album are ‘Any Weather’, ‘Reality Mentality’, ‘Soulmates To Strangers’ and ‘Bad As We Can Be’, whose first riffs sound exactly like Poison’s ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ (I still can’t figure out if it’s a tribute, a parody or a copy…)
Hard to Grow Up’ has that punk and melancholic, very Ramones vibe. It also makes a stand along with ‘Fragile’, very melodic, with remarkable arrangements like violins and guitars that reminds you a bit to Backyard Babies and the new wave of Scandinavian sleaze rock.
Another highlight from the lyrics point of view is ‘Different’, apparently inspired by bullying and dedicated the victims of it.
Let’s say it, it’s not easy to follow the success of anthems like ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ or ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’. It wasn’t only the good songs but the right time and the right place for them to be such hits – Oh, how we praise the 80s!- .
Unvarnished is a good record, just not brilliant. Joan Jett’s fans will love it but it’s not a highlight in her career. It’s good rock and roll with a badass punk attitude. It has her trademark, it has her voice and her spirit.