Reviews: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – Unvarnished (2013 LP)

This review was published on the AU review on 14/10/2013 and can be viewed on their website here.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts 10th studio album, Unvarnished, oozes with the old school rock style Joan Jett became famous for since performing with The Runaways from the tender age of fifteen.

If you’ve ever drunkenly danced or sung along to “Bad Reputation” or swayed side-to-side listening to “Crimson and Clover“, then you’ve got Jett to thank for the fun times. Jett is also well-known known for her famous covers of “I Love Rock N’ Roll” and Pat Benatar classic “Hit Me With Your Best Shot“.

If you’ve ever drunkenly danced or sung along to “Bad Reputation” or swayed side-to-side listening to “Crimson and Clover”, then you’ve got Jett to thank for the fun times. Jett is also well-known for her famous covers of “I Love Rock N’ Roll” and Pat Benatar classic “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.

Forty years on and Jett’s still rocking out. Unvarnished was released by her own record label, Blackheart Records, which Jett recently told Time Out Melbourne, occurred due to being turned down by 23 record labels.

Unvarnished features special guest appearances from modern-day grunge rock drumming legend Dave Grohl, and Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace. Blackheart members on bill are Dougie Needles (guitar) and Thommy Price (drums).

Album opener, “Any Weather” kicks off the album in an upbeat fashion with its sing-along lyrics (Grohl’s contribution), rhythmic clapping, Jett’s riffing and drumming backbeat provided by Grohl. The uplifting mood continues with sophomore track “TMI“, but drops into blandness and monotony for the remainder of the album, bar one track, “Reality Mentality”, which sounds like a track you’d hear accompanying a television advertisement.

Overall, despite the lack of energy and variety throughout this release, Jett’s voice is still as youthful as can be and the tracks that are most enjoyable to listen to are the ones produced as collaborations.

Review Score: 6.5 out of 10

Unvarnished is in stores now.

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