I’ve always been a huge Bon Jovi fan. The album that is still my absolute favorite is 1995’s These Days and I don’t see it ever being knocked off the top spot. The emotion is dark and real and it has a post grunge mixed with classic rock ‘n roll vibe to it. After the release of that album, Jon Bon Jovi went solo and released a pop solo album (1997’s Destination Anywhere) only to triumphantly return in 2000 with Crush (which contained the massive hit, “It’s My Life”). From 2002-2013 Bon Jovi released ten albums in an eleven-year span (including a box set of demos and outtakes), which takes us to the falling out between lead singer Jon Bon Jovi and lead guitarist Richie Sambora following the release of their 2013 studio album, What About Now.
On August 12, 2016, Bon Jovi will release their long awaited single, “This House Is Not For Sale”, the title track from their upcoming fourteenth studio album. Despite this being referred to as the first real album without longtime guitarist Richie Sambora, Bon Jovi did technically release the album, Burning Bridges, in 2015. Jon Bon Jovi himself called it “a fan album” to bridge the gap between What About Now and their next “proper album” This House Is Not For Sale. He also stated that the record was really only released to fulfill their record contract with Mercury Records and he called the album “the end of an era, not the beginning of the new one”. So considering that the new Bon Jovi single is scheduled to release August 12th and I never really reviewed this album, I decided that it was appropriate to take a look at what ended the pop rock era of Bon Jovi and what is to come in the new era.
Before I dive head first into the tracks on this album, I feel that it is important to state what this album really is. Rather than releasing the album that is supposed to bring Bon Jovi back to the table of conversation with the label they despise, the band offered an album of songs that didn’t quite make the cut for the past several albums and a few new ones to keep things interesting. The first song on this album, “A Teardrop To The Sea”, is fantastic. You can really feel the heartbreak and drunkenness in Jon’s vocals and I really like how he seemed all down and out but picked himself up off the ground because that’s there is to do. The song also had a killing guitar solo, which proves first hand that the band does not need Richie to have a shredding guitar solo. This song, though it is one of the new ones, really took be back to the These Days album. The second track, “We Don’t Run”, was one of two twin singles that were both released on July 31, 2015. Jon described the song as a new track that hints at the future direction of the band. The song is a good rocker with another shredding guitar solo played by the band’s producer, John Shanks.
“Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning”, the second of the twin singles and the third song overall on the record, is a catchy upbeat romantic pop rock song with an infectious chorus that sounds really similar to the hit Nickelback song “Gotta Be Somebody” from their Dark Horse record from 2008. The song is the only one on the record to be co-written by former Bon Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora, and oddly enough it lacks a guitar solo. The song was written for their 2009 album, The Circle, and it is one of the better songs on the record. “We All Fall Down”, the fourth track on the album, is an inspiration pop song that contains a good message but doesn’t really warrant more than a couple of listens. The song was written for their 2013 album, What About Now, and based on the song’s mediocrity yet catchy chorus, it’s easy to tell that it came from that record.
The fifth song on the album, “Blind Love”, was written for an unreleased Jon Bon Jovi solo album. It is a very small sounding song that uses primarily acoustic instruments. It is a rather sweet love song but really isn’t anything special. The sixth song on the record, “Who Would You Die For”, is a surprisingly good pop song. It really shows off Jon’s vocals in a way a lot of past albums really didn’t. I found the lack of auto tune (which has become typical in a Bon Jovi pop song) refreshing and the guitar solo is damn good as well despite the fact that it is really simple. The song was a new song written for the upcoming album and that’s a good sign.
“Fingerprints”, the seventh song on the album, is an acoustic country rock song that was written for the band’s country-crossover album from 2007, Lost Highway. It is a decent song but it doesn’t quite stand up to the 2007 album. “Life Is Beautiful”, the eighth song on the album was written for The Circle and it is a decent acoustic song but not anything special. The ninth song on the album, “I’m Your Man”, is a classic rock ‘n roll song written during the making of the band’s 2005 album, Have A Nice Day. The song itself is really good and one of the highlights of the album.
The tenth track of the album, “Burning Bridges”, is the title track of the album and is a bit less serious than most songs on the album. The song is a new one and it tells the story of the record label selling the band out to the point where Jon couldn’t take it anymore. The execution of the song is perhaps the best thing about it. It is a campfire sing-along-type song that is perfect for Jon to raise his middle finger to and sing along. The eleventh track on the album, “Take Back The Night”, is also a new song and is a pop rock song with yet another shredding guitar solo. What I like best about the album closer is that it is also a hurtful song about being down and picking yourself back up.
Overall, the Burning Bridges album is decent. It has some strong songs at the beginning as well as strong songs closing out the record. The strongest songs on the album are the ones that were written for the upcoming record but left off. With that being the case, I have high expectations for the new album and I am very excited to hear their new single “This House Is Not For Sale”.