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Announcing her departure from Vixen earlier this year, it seems Janet Gardner's creative priorities now reside with making music alongside her husband and fellow musician, Justin James. And here we have their sophomore album, 'Your Place in the Sun', the follow-up to Gardner’s 2017 debut solo record.

What other personnel have been involved in the recordings? No idea. Presumably just the two of them. To be honest, the press blurb that came through with this album is minimal. There’s no mention of anyone else. As with the previous album, Gardner's past glories are once again lauded; there are some ramblings about the previous album; and some jovial jibes about Gardner playing a guitar solo on this new one. Other info provided about 'Your Place in the Sun'? Merely that the "duo is back", it's "a perfect follow-up" (isn't this supposedly the case with every artist's each subsequent record?), and it "combines modern rock elements with the classic sound Janet has become known for." Oh, and "she also continues to push the boundaries and tread new waters." New waters? That must be the guitar solo, then. As for pushing the boundaries and a modern/classic amalgam... forget that, as this all sounds pretty much like the 80s, to me. Sure, the production is more contemporary sounding, although this in itself is a little clinical, with what sounds like too much Pro Tools polish in places (or whatever software's been used).

There's a great energy to much of the material, which is all driven along by a melodically uplifting impetus. It'll provide great summer listening, for sure, for those who like the nostalgic feeling of revelling in retro sounding rock that occasionally dips its toes into metal waters. James’ guitar work is great, if a little cluttered sounding in the mix, at times, when he succumbs to effects overload (certain passages of ‘Assassinate’, for example). Janet's vocals are also top-notch, although there are some peculiar effects choices at work that mar them here and there. It sounds as if there's perhaps a little too much reverb and/or delay during certain passages, while others seem to have had some sort of modulation filter applied. Just check out 'Unconditionally' - the modulation and reverb are in full flow during parts of this one. It can make the singing sound somewhat detached from the instrumentations.

Any other sounds issues? For me, although there's a nice bass sonority within much of the music, the bass somehow ends up sounding a little lacklustre in certain tracks; more like a dull thud than any kind of arse-vibrating resonance. And there’s a mightily odd percussion thing going on sporadically, throughout the entire album. It’s the hi-hat sound that’s the culprit and other cymbals, too. Could just be a mixing issue… but it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Okay, all negativity and sound/production/mix annoyances aside (and the general, overall production is well above average), ‘Your Place in the Sun’ is a very likeable album indeed, chock-full of unpretentious, melodically-driven, retro flavoured songs that are what they are. Entertaining, some great performances, but with a flawed production/mix in places. Overall, I’d say this is a sideways step from the previous album, rather than bettering it in any way.
Pavement Music
Review by Mark Holmes
21st June 2019
1) Your Place in the Sun
2) Assassinate; 3) Standing
4) Try; 5) Web
6) Kicks Me Back
7) A Way to Your Heart
8) Should Have Known
9) Unconditionally
10) You Said
11) Without You
12) Flame Thrower
"There's a great energy to much of the material, which is all driven along by a melodically uplifting impetus."