Joan Jett is at her best when she sounds angry (which is most of the time), and on “Unvarnished,” she turns her ire on two targets: reality TV and the extent to which social media has rendered nothing about many people’s lives off-limits.
“Reality Mentality” takes aim at trash TV: “Wanna be a star? We’ll just lower the bar.” And on “TMI” (as in “too much information”), she recoils in horror about what people will post about themselves for the world to see. “Soulmates to Strangers” is a wistful look at a relationship that withered and died, while “Make It Back” starts with insecurity that ends with certainty that things are going to be all right.
The prototypical tough-chick-with-a-guitar, Joan Jett has always been about straight-ahead rock anthems, sweetened with just enough melody to burn them into your brain. From her teen days with the ’70s girl group The Runaways through hits like “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You,” Jett has delivered the goods and the attitude, stood back and not cared about what people thought.
I wish there were 100 Joan Jetts, but since there’s only one, anytime she makes an album it’s worth a serious listen.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts ‘Unvarnished’ Rating: W W W W V