album reviews

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Blackheart Records (2006)

Joan Jett could have just disappeared: Without a domestic studio release since the early 1990s, her recent discography has been littered with a live recording, a career compilation and a rerelease. But a headlining slot on this summer's Warped tour and a new studio album have launched Jett back into the spotlight; earlier this month she was sandwiched between Kelly Clarkson and the Dixie Chicks at No. 7 on AOL's "Top 20 Women Who Rock . . . Right Now."

Though much of Jett's newest CD was previously released on a Japan-only album two years ago, "Sinner" does not feel recycled. From her political ranting on "Riddles" (and her feisty shout of "Wake up, people!") to the softer -- but still gritty -- ballad "Watersign," co-written with Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna, Jett sounds as raucous as ever. Even a few clunkers, such as the overtly sexed-up "Fetish" with its exaggerated, whiplashing sound effects, don't suffer from a lack of effort.

Jett has always made the biggest splash with her covers -- such as the Arrows' "I Love Rock N' Roll" and Tommy James & the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover" -- and she takes the same approach on "Sinner" with a saucy take on Sweet's "A.C.D.C." She amps up the song's sexuality with her hoarse howl, which teeters between anguish and arousal. With that overt liveliness, coupled with the song's playful video (portraying Carmen Electra ping-ponging between Jett and a boyfriend), Jett clearly flaunts her unfading vigor.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 13 October 2006, Page WE06
.: Sinner on