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Junkyard Princess: Junkyard Princess

In the nice little letter that came attached with the self titled debut album from Holland's Junkyard Princess, there's a suggestion that this band are "epic, symphonic rock with a funky groove – a mix of Mother's Finest, Beth Hart's raw romance and a bit of Deep Purple in their heyday". Bold claims indeed and of course ones that this fledgling act can't stand up to. However let's not dismiss this lot too hastily, for they have an ace in their deck and a solid sound to back it up. That ace? Well, not many bands have the astounding vocal talents of Maaike Janssen at their disposal, this young lady holding an immense power and control, while covering as many octaves as you care mention… And you know what…? I can't connect with it at all. This hugely talented lady's want to hit all the notes, all the time, something I've never enjoyed hearing, no matter how well it's done (it's done very well) or how powerful the voice doing it (VERY powerful indeed). Seriously, if you like a female vocalist constantly pushing boundaries and showing vocal prowess few could match, while admittedly never reigning things in, add an extra half star. Heck, an extra full star to the score below!

The combo backing Janssen seem to know that they're more the sideshow than the main event; not to the extent that you could suggest monkey and organ grinder though. Although you better believe that Gerald Vos is grinding his organ with verve and vigour (ooer missus!) and through that, the popping beats from Albert Loonstra and funktastic grooves from guitarist Hans Elmers and bassist Rock Van Heuzen, it's easy to understand where the Mother's Finest comparisons are aimed. To be fair you can also spot the Purple, although we're talking the sort of Purple that made Mr Blackmore search for his pot of gold with Rainbow, not that there's anything wrong with that of course; although "Picking up the Pieces" does have a classic Purple canter about it. The Beth Hart influence however is harder to spot.

The slow easy vibe of "King Of Kings" sets the sassy stall of this band, while the organ heavy "Are You Ready" (not the Thin Lizzy classic) adds a punchier hit. Throughout, Janssen stretches her vocal cords, her bottom end scrapping the floor, the high notes sending us into darkness as light bulbs shatter. However she certainly knows how to rock and she knows how to roll, as do her band. Opening (and closing, in radio-edit form) cut "Could Well Be" is this lady's real showcase, all her tricks, flicks, howls and wails delivered with gusto, and really, if you can stay the course here, you'll adore the rest of this album. For me, it's all a little too much, a pudding over egged, a cake had and eaten all at once, the sheer determination to show off just how good this lady is (and kudos to Elmers for a stunning guitar solo and Vos for keen keys) simply overpowering.

If you like your vocals to be less, less is more, instead craving more, more and please sir can I have some more, this album will be a delight. For me it's a missed opportunity. Not by much, but enough to make me admire more than enjoy. If Junkyard Princess can learn to play more for the song and less for the moment, what comes next could be special. As it is, it's more a case of nearly but not quite...

Track Listing
1. Could Well Be
2. Fugitive
3. Picking Up The Pieces
4. King Of Kings
5. Are You Ready
6. Warriors
7. Gravity
8. Old Gods
9. I Don't Need Nobody
10. Could Well Be (radio edit)

Added: April 24th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Junkyard Princess online
Hits: 1264
Language: english

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