Greetings, Glancers! I wasn’t originally going to listen to this album as it is highlighted as a compilation release. When I decided to read a little about it, its seems to be a compilation of new songs…. isn’t that just a new album? Then it turned out they were mostly unreleased or unfinished songs from the last few albums with a couple of new songs thrown in. That’s close enough to a new studio release for me, so I’m going to give it a go. The name seems to be a play on words regarding Sambora leaving the group, but apparently they had left their long time record company too. Like I mentioned on their last album, maybe these circumstances translate somehow to the music and tone. Lets do this!
‘A Teardrop To The Sea‘ kicks things off in moody form, slow and neat, building in volume as the ‘ohh ohh’ vocals come in. That’s a very good intro and not something the band does often. The verse pulls things back a little, volume-wise, and delivers a strong melody. The chorus brings the happy a little more than I would have liked, but it stops itself from getting too jubilant. It’s a song which suits Jon’s vocals such as they are now – no need for the big notes, but still able to bring the emotion. A good, understated opener.
‘We Don’t Run‘ is a familiar name. Wasn’t it on another album? Who knows. It’s a similar tone to the opener, but more bombastic. The verse is heavier, the vocals more talky, and it has the unnecessary ‘hey’ shouts in the background. The verse is middle of the road Bon Jovi fare – it’s crowd-pleasing stuff but one which reminds us that they have at least ten very similar songs which are much stronger than this. Lyrically, it’s all very positive and us against the world.
‘Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning‘ gets stuck in immediately, buoyant melody and big vocals. Good verse, a lot of promise. A good chorus too, these type of songs have a habit of falling down at the chorus for me, but this one makes the grade. The lyrics are pretty sappy but I can overlook that based on the strength of the melodies and the overall warmth and conviction. Even the middle is good. This feels like one of their best late career songs.
‘We All Fall Down‘ is another mellow starter. The move into the chorus made me feel like Westlife more than anyone else, or some other blanket boy band. The music is more like background noise without a lot of character. Still, I quite like it. It’s an uplifting ballad but is far too plain to have any impact on me. I’m always talking about how much I love ballads – but in general they need to be over the top or something special for me to really get on board. This is your average mid album ballad – nice and airy, but no substance.
‘Blind Love‘ opens just like the previous song – more focus on keyboards. It immediately feels more up my alley in terms of ballads. Yeah, it’s unashamedly sweet and cheesy, but as I say I’m usually a sucker for these things if they feel authentic. This one works while the previous one didn’t. Bonus points for the strings. It’s very simple, and the lyrics get better as the strings grow and peak.
‘Who Would You Die For‘ is another ballad? Three in a row is rarely a good idea. At least it’s another different sonic approach, this one using Dance beats. It feels like a late 90s Dance track, just without the bass beat. The bass beat is replaced by a big guitar chord for the chorus, which gives the song enough venom to take it out of ballad territory. It cranks up for the second verse thanks to a simmering solo and some more threatening drums – could do without the organ and the drum break though. And the vocal standalone. A song which could have been more to my tastes if they’d kept it simple – they experimented a little to get to the first chorus, but they try to take it further and it doesn’t pay off. An interesting one which is sure to stand out but just misses out on hitting the higher grades.
‘Fingerprints‘ opens with guitar hinting at another cowboy epic of sorts. The verse takes it more down the ballad route than the dusty cowboy path. I’m not sure how I feel about this one on first listen. The melodies aren’t doing it for me, the strings are doing their best to pull it up, and I can feel the emotion from the band but it doesn’t translate to me. Even with the double solo, I’m not sure it does enough to justify its length.
‘Life Is Beautiful‘ is a song whose opening ten seconds I already know because YT keeps making it the automatic next song after any of the ones above have finished. Now I get the full thing. It feels like a single, it feels like any number of recent Bon Jovi singles – fun, light, singalong chorus. It’s a little forgettable for all that. They miss a melodic trick in the chorus by not ‘going up’ in the ‘away’ in ‘wash away’. If you’ve heard the song you’ll understand. It’s satisfactory for a band long past having to try to please the fans.
‘I’m Your Man’ is another moderately up tempo song, feels like one of those mid-album tracks which flies under the radar of most people but leaps out at me. The verse confirms the sentiment – it’s as simple but as effective as you can get with this sort of thing. It’s not great then that there isn’t really a chorus, just one recital of the title followed by instrumental. It’s a song I don’t think will knock anyone;s socks off, but I like it.
‘Burning Bridges‘ is the title track, obv. You don’t usually get these left until the end like we have here. I put my hands over my face when it started because it opens like a joke song with spoken parts and hippy beats. It is a joke song, but thankfully it’s better than what the opening ten seconds foretold. The lyrics are pretty funny and they’re clearly ripping the arse out of things. It’s not great, not bad, but at least they had the balls and wit to do it.
Another album and another solid, fan pleasing effort. This time they don’t take any risks or aim to bring their sound towards a new direction. It’s exactly the sort of sound and the type of song you would expect them to make thirty years after starting, with a little less exuberance and vitality. Of course, we all lose those things with age. I keep expecting to dislike more songs than I like, but that hasn’t been the case for a few albums now – sure most are going to be forgettable to me, but there’s always a number of standouts which I’ll throw on the playlist and introduce in my car journeys. Bon Jovi were never the sort of band I would simply stick on and listen to for the pleasure of hearing an album, like I do with other bands. Outside of a small collection of outstanding songs, they’re a band for getting pumped up or partying to thanks to their biggest hits, or for having in the car to accompany driving and chatting with melody and memory – and that’s a lot more than I can say for most groups.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: A Teardrop To The Sea. Saturday Night Gave Us Sunday Morning. Blind Love. I’m Your Man.