• 7/10
    JENNIFER BATTEN - Whatever - 7/10


Lion Music
Release date: April 18, 2008

User Review
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Jennifer Batten is perhaps one of the most notable female guitarists amongst a horde of male guitar players that have come and gone over the last several decades. She initially gained attention by mastering the two-handed tapping technique made popular by Edward Van Halen. She then expanded her notoriety by then writing for Guitar Player magazine and appearing on the first Guitar For Practicing Musicians compilation CD. Jennifer was steadfastly becoming known as “the” female shredder in a predominately male dominated market. In 1987, sporting a “mile-high,” BIG hair, pure white blonde Mohawk, Jennifer was the featured guitarist in Michael Jackson’s touring band playing to over 4.5 million people and playing with Jackson on America’s extremely popular, yearly football sports event … Super Bowl XXVII’s Halftime Show.

In 1992 Batten released her first, perhaps slightly overlooked, exceptional solo instrumental album, Above Below And Beyond, and her creativity, guitar mastery, and technique came across akin to a “female Steve Vai.” In 1997, she released another album, Momentum, with her own three-piece band Tribal Rage, which was also recognized as a guitar aficionado’s release.

In 1998, she was asked by Jeff Beck himself to join his touring band where she went on to appear on two of Beck’s modern day releases as well as contributing song ideas, guitar, and guitar synthesizer.

Ten years later sees Jennifer releasing a new solo release in Whatever, which Lion Music is releasing as a dual pack CD/DVD release. The DVD contains commentary by Batten on each track. Batten describes this new release as “guitronica,” and it presents itself as somewhat of a change in direction being more “electronica” versus the more traditional guitar-driven approach of her debut release. Many of the tracks, in fact, offered here were actually written while in Jeff Beck’s band. Overall, the tunes are multi-textured with an eclectic mix of sounds and vocal samples, while maintaining a sort of humorous tone throughout.

The problem, for Metal fans, is that as noble as the guitar playing is on this release, there are just too many multi-textures and ethnic culture influences to hold the attention span of most Metal/Hard Rock fans. Going into Whatever blindly without being familiar with some of Batten’s previous solo works will most assuredly have people accusing her of being somewhat eccentric. The vocal samples, sound clips, etc. take Whatever to an extreme, way past anything Frank Zappa or Steve Vai (think Flex-Able era Vai) ever did.

With that being said what should the listener expect? Some examples are the opening track “Ass Whoopin’,” which is Hip-Hop in nature albeit with some piercing Batten fills. “Ricochet” is too electronica for most. “Off The Deep End” has an African vibe to it, which most notably is filled with some tasty vibrato work by Batten that is very “Jeff Beck-ish” and Wired in nature. The title track “Whatever,” on the other hand, is the coup de grâce and is the most palatable by Metal fans. Honorable mention certainly has to go to “Inner Journey” which is a track that should cause every male in the universe to be attracted to Jennifer as the song’s percussion is based on body noise samples!!

Bottom line, this one is for diehard Batten enthusiasts only. For Metal fans it’ll be a test of their patience to hold on for the next shining Batten guitar moment and snippet amongst all the melee of sounds, samples and programming. “Eccentric,” “a bit crazy …” perhaps, but aren’t those terms they used to describe Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at one point in his career? Nevertheless, when all is said and done Batten still retains her female shredder status!


Jennifer Batten – all Guitars, Keyboards, Programming, Production
Sandin Wilson (Gino Vanelli band) – Bass
Andre Berry (David Sanborn, Dave Koz, Chris Botti) – Bass
Jon Clark, Debbie Schepp, Bret and Kari Helm, Ann Marie Crouch, Nel Gerome, Leah Santos, Sean Dailey – vocal samples
Skip Vonkuske – Cello
Nelly Kovalev – Violin
Betsy Hamilton – Native American flute
Michael Jordan – Drums on “Inner Journey”


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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