Album Review: ‘Unvarnished’ is Untouchable: Joan Jett’s New Album after Seven Years

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So what if Joan Jett and the Blackhearts still haven’t gotten into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame?  Who cares that this year they didn’t even get nominated? And big deal if South Dakota ranchers pitched a fit when hearing PETA advocate and vegetarian Joan Jett was going to represent their float?  Well, certainly Joan Jett doesn’t give a damn about a bad reputation because at the age of 55, Joan Jett is rocking just as hard, and maybe even harder, as she did back in the day of the Runaways.

Released on September 30, 2013, “Unvarnished” is the 10th studio album for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Just like the title says, this album is direct and straightforward.  Not only is “Any Weather” their first official single released, but it was also a song co-written with one of the most -hard working men in the music business, Dave Grohl.  In the October issue of Rolling Stone, Jett reflects on her time spent touring with the Foo Fighters and wanting to work with Grohl: “I wanted to write with Dave for a while. I think he’s a great songwriter, but I don’t think he does a lot of writing with people outside of the Foos. But he invited me into his studio, and I had an idea for a song, which is “Any Weather,” and did it for him.”  This love-child song with its catchy, typical riffs was  created by two insanely talented musicians is the gem of all singles and encompasses everything Joan Jett stands for as a person as she sings, “We can stay together, make it through whatever, ‘cause we love.” And this song is easy to be loved, including its standard Joan Jett catchy, rock riff.  Also collaborating on this album is Laura Jane Grace from the band Against Me.  Also inspired after touring together, the song, “Soulmates to Strangers,” was an idea pitched by Grace to her following a conversation they had after doing a concert together last year. The two performed the song together during Jett’s set in Silver Springs, FL last weekend.

Again quoted from Rolling Stone in the same October issue, Jett declares this album as the “most autobiographical project” she has ever undertaken. Unvarnished features songs concerning the death of Jett’s parents and her celebration of the determination of Hurricane Sandy victims, along with other topics such as feeling like an outcast or being bullied.

Joan Jett is working hard to promote it with live performances all over the world, including a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! back in August in which she debuted “Any Weather” for the first time and she is scheduled to present at the American Music Awards on Sunday, November 24th.  Joan Jett is also scheduled to perform in this year’s Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade.  Despite complaints from South Dakota ranchers about having a vegetarian and animal rights advocate representing their state, Joan Jett as always has not lost focus.  Graciously, she came out with the statement, “I’ve decided to switch from South Dakota to another float because people’s political agendas were getting in the way of what should be a purely entertainment driven event,” Jett said in a statement released the Friday after the incident. “I will remain focused on entertaining the millions of people watching, who will be celebrating a great American tradition.”  Nothing gets in the way of Joan Jett giving all that she can rock.  Be sure to catch Joan Jett and the Blackhearts do their thing in the 87th Macy’s Day Parade, and don’t miss out on getting your copy of Unvarnished!


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