bill bodkin holds on to what he’s got …
Sometimes you can give a band a pass.
If you’re from New Jersey, Bon Jovi, gets one. Why? Because he’s walked the same streets us as, he’s scored the soundtrack to many of our most memorable experiences — his songs are woven into our DNA.
Problem is, we’ve been giving Bon Jovi a pass for far too long. Ever since 2001’s Bounce, the quality of music the boys from the Garden State has waned and it’s been noticeable. Do we need to talk about the putrid This Left Feels Right, their re-interpretation of their greatest hits, or their foray into country music?
That’s why this lifelong Bon Jovi fan wasn’t rushing out to listen to or review the band’s new record, What About Now. The album’s lead single, “Because We Can,” wasn’t exactly inciting excitement — it was another ‘live life to the fullest’ anthem that seemed to lack any fire or emotion.
However, once you get past any reservations about the band and the new record’s lead single, you’ll realize that you don’t need to give Bon Jovi a pass anymore — they’ve created a solid record here.
That’s right, solid, not amazing. It seems as though we’re passed the days of Bon Jovi creating seminal records. We can look to Crush as the band’s last opus. Yes, some of you may laugh at that statement, but to Bon Jovi fans, that record — the band’s big comeback album — is by far one of their best works from start to finish.
What About Now, like any Bon Jovi work, is filled with big anthems, rife with Richie Sambora shredding, gang choruses and hands-in-the-air bravado. None of these tracks on What About Now really register in the same level as say “It’s My Life” or “Livin’ on a Prayer” and that’s okay. It’s better that the band has created a solid overall work as compared to a record with one or two memorable tracks, a trait all of their records post-Bounce have done.
If there is one stand-out song on What About Now, it’s “Amen.” This is a terrific, acoustic guitar and organ-driven piece. For the first time in what seems forever, Jon Bon Jovi stretches his vocals, reminding us that he can still reach the heights of heaven and damn it’s refreshing. In contrast to What About Now’s anthems, “Amen” could easily be included on the list of Bon Jovi’s best ballads of all-time.
In the end, if you’re a Bon Jovi fan and have been sorely disappointed with the band’s recent records, then you’ll definitely enjoy What About Now.