Album Review | Hypertension | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5
On the sleeve that accompanies the new album by Janet Robin, Everything Has Changed, we have the singer-songwriter-guitarist coming at us purposely with her acoustic Taylor – brandishing it more like – all smiles and ready for action. No stranger to the big stage, Janet Robin has worked with the likes of the Lindsey Buckingham Band, the Meredith Brooks Band and Air Supply and has made a reputation for herself as an outstanding guitarist who is equally at home with the Taylors as well as the Fenders and is fearless in her approach. Michelle Shocked reportedly suggested that Robin is “one of the best guitarists in the country: male or female”. Assuming that the country in question is America, then that’s a pretty hefty responsibility, to be one of the best amongst that particular bunch of musicians. Sporting a variety of stage costumes and big hairdos throughout the 80s, including spells in garage and glam rock bands, most notably Precious Metal, Robin cut her teeth on the LA rock scene, which paved her way towards working with the likes of the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and gained her a reputation of being a first rate musician. Recorded in the tranquillity of Cash Cabin, a ranch on the outskirts of Nashville once owned by Johnny Cash and June Carter, now in the hands of their son John Carter Cash (who also produces this album), the songs on this, Robin’s fifth album, show a marked maturity in terms of both song writing and musicianship. Most of the songs on the album are from Robin’s pen with the exception of a couple of non-originals including Cindy Walker’s “Dream Baby”, gorgeously sexing up the Roy Orbison hit in the process with a memorably cool groove and the more contemporary PJ Harvey powerhouse “This Is Love”, complete with a sneering guitar solo midway through; either performance a worthy contender for first single from the album status. In the only instrumental piece on the album “CHR Number 137”, Robin slips into the sort of acoustic pyrotechnics Stephen Stills was once known for, a sort of Jimmy Page circa Led Zep III mode, which also accompanies the video feature included on the disc, which has Robin wandering around the sprawling grounds of Cash Cabin, featuring the iconic recording studio where much of Cash’s later work was recorded, with Cash memorabilia scattered randomly about the place, together with various chickens, goats and erm.. llama? I think the word I’m looking for is.. anyway.. Although this is a world away from Robin’s forays into the heavy metal world of Precious Metal, the music on Everything Has Changed maintains a hard edge but has reached a maturity that successfully straddles the boundaries of rock, pop and Americana in more than a pleasing way.