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Joan Jett And The Blackhearts

joan-jett

Unvarnished
Liberator Music/Blackheart Records

From the opening bubblegum hook and power chords of Any Weather – featuring superfan Dave Grohl producing and playing – the former Ms Larkin plays to all of her formidable strengths on her first album in seven years.

Listening to Unvarnished against her I Love Rock’n’Roll or Bad Reputation albums shows that Joan Jett has rediscovered herself after letting her music and image go down the commercially unrewarding road into the murky waters of S&M and androgyny over her last few releases Naked, Fetish and Sinner.

Her success as Executive Producer of The Runaways biopic seems to have invigorated her with a good rummage through her celebrated past. Gone is the peroxide buzzcut in favour of her familiar shaggy dark locks, and Unvarnished is unabashedly an album for old school Jettsters, with irresistible hair shakers TMI, Hard To Grow Up and Bad As We Can Be all striking the balance between pop rock bliss and punky grit.

Jett cites this as her most introspective album yet, and she tackles lost love tenderly and compassionately on Soulmates To Stranger. Everybody Needs A Hero closes the album, a more plaintive string-laden rock ballad that shows how talented she really is, these 10 tracks proving that Joan Jett still undoubtedly loves rock’n’roll.

_ SHANE PINNEGAR

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