This album seems to have been a long time coming. The last Jane Getter Premonition studio album, ON, was back in 2015, and although there was a live album taken from the ON tour, we’ve had to wait six years for this collection of new songs. Well, happily I can give every reassurance that it was worth the wait, as Jane has crafted an engaging selection of tracks played by some of the finest musicians around. I was slightly concerned that she would struggle to top ON, but Anomalia is another definite step forward.
The core of the band is Getter on vocals and guitar, and husband Adam Holzman on keyboards. Adam is of course best known as the keyboard wizard in Steven Wilson’s band, but he has a more jazz inclined pedigree, having played with Miles Davis amongst numerous others. Jane’s guitar playing is stunningly good, and also jazz tinged, but with a rocky heart. There are suggestions of McLaughlin and Scofield in her style, but she has carved out her own individual sound. Supporting this pair are a couple of different rhythm section combinations, either Stu Hamm and Chad Wackerman, or Mark Egan and Gene Lake. Both pairings provide the necessary exemplary foundations on which the compositions are built. Other contributors include Alex Skolnick on fiery guitar, and Randy McStine and Chanda Rule on vocals. There’s even a guest appearance by Vernon Reid on one track, so the standard of musicianship could hardly be higher.
Anomalia begins with an introductory instrumental work out called Kryptone, and Getter’s usual minor chord structures immediately give a slightly edgy atmosphere underlined by Holzman’s keyboards. He doesn’t really get to play ‘happy’ in Mr Wilson’s band, and the same style is perfectly suited to the compositional approach of these songs, which frequently nod in the direction of Porcupine Tree. This ‘edge’ is further reinforced by Getter’s guitar style and tone, and she trades licks with Holzman to great effect, the band simmering nicely. There’s an eerie mid-section which builds back up to more guitar fireworks. Lessons Learned continues this mood, introducing Jane’s voice, at first heavily treated and distant amid the crunchy guitar. Her fretwork is nimble and emotional, but never obvious or cliched. Zappa alumni Chad Wackerman is unobtrusive but punchy and intuitively in tune with bassist Stu Hamm. Jane is comfortable on either acoustic or electric guitar, and both are used here as the texture changes.
This is a fine start to proceedings, but Dissembler takes us up another gear, with a great guitar melody and the distinctive voice of Randy McStine. He has been increasing his profile in the last year with two excellent albums collaborating with Marco Minnemann, and his singing is perfect for Getter’s songs. There’s some tasty staccato riffing and some outrageous guitar playing, both from Jane and guest Vernon Reid. McStine also shares vocals with Getter on the slow-burning ballad Alien Refugee, with its haunting refrain “she must….try to find a place to belong”. Adam plays some tasteful piano, adding to the melancholy of the piece.
Still Here sees a return to the atmosphere of unease, Getter showing that she is more than capable of handling lead vocals. The jazzy guitar break sees her trading solos with Alex Skolnick, the pair pushing each other to new heights, with wonderful electric piano counterpoint, then a marvellous organ solo. The song is about feeling lost, and as we approach the closing passage, a female sat nav voice gives us directions to who knows where. It’s a nice touch. Vocal duties are handed over to Chanda Rule for Answers, a lovely anthemic song, with powerful piano underpinning the melodic guitar lines. The gritty instrumental Queen of Spies leads us to the climactic Disappear, with sweeping orchestral keyboards building with synth punctuation, and a brief but well-judged guitar solo, all based, this time, on the rhythmic flare of Mark Egan and Gene Lake.
As an epilogue, Jane pulls off a short but beautiful acoustic instrumental, Safe House. It brings us very neatly to the end of a great album which seems to be over way too soon, but in reality is probably just right. In a fair and just world, this should be the album that gets Jane heard by a much wider audience. It’s been beautifully played and produced, and is strikingly presented with Lasse Hoile cover art, and as a slice of progressive rock with both metallic and jazz leanings, it should have wide appeal. I can only add that having listened to this album repeatedly over the last few weeks, it is doubtless going to be one of my favourite releases this year.
01. Kryptone (4:37)
02. Lessons Learned (5:08)
03. Dissembler (6:17)
04. Alien Refugee (5:28)
05. Still Here (6:42)
06. Answers (4:51)
07. Queen of Spies (4:26)
08. Disappear (5:37)
09. Safe House (2:08)
Total Time – 45:14
Jane Getter – Guitars, Vocals
Adam Holzman – Keyboards
Alex Skolnick – Guitar (tracks 1,3 & 5)
Stu Hamm – Bass (tracks 1,2,4,6 & 7)
Chad Wackerman – Drums (tracks 1,2,4,6 & 7)
Mark Egan – Bass (tracks 3,5 & 8)
Gene Lake – Drums (tracks 3,5 & 8)
Randy McStine – Vocals (tracks 3 & 4)
Chanda Rule – Vocals (track 6)
~ Special Guest:
Vernon Reid – Guitar (track 3)
Record Label: Esoteric Antenna
Produced By: Jane Getter & Adam Holzman
Album Artwork: Lasse Hoile
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 26th March 2021