BON JOVI: BURNING BRIDGES (2015)
1) A Teardrop To The Sea; 2) We Don't Run; 3) Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning; 4) We All Fall Down; 5) Blind Love; 6) Who Would You Die For; 7) Fingerprints; 8) Life Is Beautiful; 9) I'm Your Man; 10) Burning Bridges; 11*) Take Back The Night.
The title of this album refers not to the split between Jon and Richie Sambora, as could have been easily suggested, but to the split between Bon Jovi and Mercury Records, the label with which the band had been associated from the very beginning. Apparently, their long-term contract ran out, and both sides agreed not to renew it — and, well, I can sort of understand Mercury Records, because what do you do with a band that so decidedly does not belong in the 21st century, not to mention one that hasn't produced even a semi-decent record in more than a decade? And, on a more objective note, whose sales have been on a steady decline ever since the world discovered Britney Spears? (Not that there's any direct connection... or is there?).
Anyway, I'd like to say that Burning Bridges is their worst album in a long, long while, but in a way, it is not even an album — it is a hasty assemblage of songs culled from various vaults, with just one or two new numbers, released as a contractual obligation to facilitate the band's transition to a new label. This probably explains the presence of Sambora on the credits to at least one song (the bouncy pop rocker ʽSaturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morningʼ) and the lack of Desmond Child on any other credits, because everything written with Child was released on the spot (okay, not really, but whatever Child-cowritten outtakes they had were already issued on the 2004 boxset). This is also a gallant explanation for why almost everything on here is so shitty, and why you needn't even be aware of this album's existence unless you are forty-three years old and still remember that fateful day when your elder sister took you along to your first...
...okay, never mind. In terms of upbeatness and catchiness, there are two songs here with so-so hooks — the already mentioned ʽSaturday Nightʼ (disco meets alt-rock and fuses with it to become arena-era Taylor Swift as sung by Jon Bon Jovi; I don't think you'll meet a more precise description of this anywhere) and ʽI'm Your Manʼ, because falsetto woo-woos are a terrible weapon even in the wrong hands. The title track, an acoustic-and-accordeon dance number, is a rather rude goodbye to Mercury Records, but since it does not mention Mercury Records by name, they apparently had no choice but to let it go. It's at least mildly amusing if you know the context.
Everything else is mainly just power ballads, with the usual Bon Jovi aplomb and pretense — soulfulness, echoes, power chords, some more fresh bleeding from a heart that's been punctured so much, it's hard to believe it could not be made out of plastic. Largely awful production, too, with synthetic guitars, heavily processed vocal harmonies, and lifeless percussion, particularly on the single ʽWe Don't Runʼ. ʽA Teardrop To The Seaʼ is at least slightly redeemed with an unusually noisy, distorted, hystrionic guitar solo (played by producer John Shanks?), but later on the scales are tipped to the other side with the awful «blues de-luxe» soloing à la late Gary Moore on ʽFingerprintsʼ (remember ʽStill Got The Bluesʼ? that's what I'm talking about, the pathetic gypsy-blues style for people who have no feeling for the real blues). But yes, on the whole, it's all in quintessential Bon Jovi style, so if you're a fan, Burning Bridges will not disappoint. If you're not a fan, though, join me in my thumbs down, and don't forget to send a congratulations card to Mercury Records. Better late than never — and now they can finally reassign some of their budget to promoting Iggy Azalea.