Review Summary: Reminiscent of Concrete Blonde, Evanescence, and Heart, U.K. singer/songwriter Janey Summer balances Goth-tinged alternative with straightforward yet compelling rockers
Almost immediately Concrete Blonde vocalist Johnette Napolitano is recalled in the opening cut, "Between Two Worlds." Janey Summer's dark, husky voice will provide those nostalgic for late '80s-early '90s modern-rock radio a much-needed fix. It helps, too, that the guitars and keyboards are colored with a Gothic tinge. To the younger crowd, it may seem like Summer is summoning the shadow-laden Evanescence; however, to Gen-X alt veterans, the point of comparison will certainly be Concrete Blonde, a group that I don't believe found a sizeable audience in Summer's U.K. homeland. The lyrics on "Between Two Worlds" will appeal to the Goth set as well as it refers to spiritual struggle between the strength of faith ("And one of me knows eternal life") and doubt arising from suffering ("The pain and the heartache that comes/From a look into the eyes of hell"). But unlike many artists exploring the forbidden corners of our daily existence, Summer isn't wallowing in despair; neither the words nor the music plunge into suffocating existential waters. Rather, the tone is questioning, not hopeless.
As soon as the doomy unrequited love of "Flame" follows it, you begin to think that this might be a Gothic rock record, albeit one with AOR guitars. "Flame" is slower but it's still mysterious and somewhat bleak like a crestfallen Heart. Along with "Between Two Worlds," it creates a two-fisted knockout punch on the CD. However, Summer switches gears by the third song, "Seeing You." Introduced by melodically jangling guitars that eventually open their way to rock-solid electric riffs, "Seeing You" casts off the enigmatic shades of the first two tunes but remains hook-laden and memorable, providing diversity to the mix. "Kept Me Waiting" broadens Summer's stylistic turns even further, employing some deliciously bluesy licks.
"You Rock (My Chemistry)" sports some killer glammy guitars while "Sometimes" opens with a freaky carnival-like atmosphere that wouldn't be out of place in a Tim Burton flick then kicks into heavenly Evanescence overdrive.