Album Releases Album Reviews

Bon Jovi – Burning Bridges Review

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Released by: Mercury Records

Release date: 21 August 2015

Genre: Rock

Links: Bonjovi.com , Twitter , Youtube , Facebook

 

Lineup:

Jon Bon Jovi – Lead singer, guitars

David Bryan – Piano

Tico Torres – Drums

 

Track Listing:

01. A Teardrop To The Sea
02. We Don’t Run 
03. Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning 
04. We All Fall Down
05. Blind Love
06. Who Would You Die For
07. Fingerprints 
08. Life Is Beautiful
09. I’m Your Man
10. Burning Bridges

Over four weeks ago, it came as a huge surprise when Bon Jovi announced that a new album was in the works. But to be honest it isn’t that “new”, because “Burning Bridges” consists mainly of songs that were originally written for older albums. It’s not a collection of demos, because the tracks were recorded a few months ago, so this LP is supposed to be a “fan album” to fill the gap until a brand new record is released in 2016. It also marks the first record in Bon Jovi history without Richie Sambora on guitars (which makes it to a Jon Bon Jovi solo record in my opinion, but later more on that). The big question is: can this album shine, where its predecessor failed?

For die-hard fans, whom loved the band since their early days, the latest album “What About Now” is a huge disappointment. I mean it’s well known that all albums after “These Days” from 1995 got more and more repetitive and weak with each new record. There were always some loveable songs on all of them, but that’s simply not enough for a legendary band like Bon Jovi which produced hits on a virtual assembly line back in the days. With the departure of Richie Sambora in 2013 things got worse, because the fan-base was split in two groups that were arguing between each other about whom is to blame for this breakup.

For those of you that don’t like the stuff since “Crush”, I can say: you also won’t be happy with “Burning Bridges”. The major sound is similar to “What About Now”. I have read that some of the songs were written for “Slippery When Wet” (1986), but I can hardly identify them on this album. The production is again a typical John Shanks production. That means beside some solos, the guitars a mixed in the background and the overall sound is too polished and focuses too much on Jon Bon Jovi’s vocals, which sound a bit rougher this time (especially on tracks such as “We Don’t Run” or “Who Would You Die For”).

Let’s get to the songs. The album kicks off with the ballad “A Teardrop To The Sea”. Yes, a ballad! Why the hell would you start a Rock album with a ballad? OK, I have to say this one is a very atmospheric and melancholic piece of music with a nice moody guitar solo in it. It isn’t the best start for a Rock album. The track “We Don’t Run”, should have been the opener as it is the best over-the-top-hit on this record. Simply the best Bon Jovi song I’ve heard since “Have A Nice Day”! It features a more aggressive vocal style in the verses and ends up in a massive anthem like chorus. That’s the kind of Bon Jovi song I want to hear more often! Also, drummer Tico Torres, really kicks ass on this song and is not just playing in his regular style.

With “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning” track, we reach the next earworm. It’s the typical Bon Jovi pop-rock hit. A little problem I’ve with that song is that the chorus seems to be similar to that of Nickelbacks “Gotta Be Somebody” track. Have a listen to both songs and you’ll see how brazenly similar the melodies of both tracks are.

Do you remember my review of “What About Now”? I mentioned that there “ballad overkill” towards the end of the record. The same happens on “Burning Bridges” in the middle of this album. “We all Fall Down” is a slushy calm ballad and things get even calmer with the “Blind Love” track, which is just a piano ballad. To be fair I have to admit that this piano tune after a few times listening to became one of my favorites. It features a very sweet melody. This could have been an even better song with a different arrangements.

If this wasn’t enough, we get to hear a third ballad, called “What Would You Die For”. Another track with lots of melancholy and definitely not my favorite song on this album. After this track we are all in full ballad-mode, so why not listen to a fourth ballad in a row!!!! “Fingerprints” kicks off very slowly, but can build up a certain tension which makes it one of the better ballads. At the end of the song we also get to hear a very extensive guitar solo. That really surprised me. Can’t remember one Bon Jovi song during the last 10 years where the solo was this long.

With “Life Is Beautiful” and “I’m Your Man” we luckily break through the album’s wall of ballads. It was very refreshing to hear two solid pop-rock tunes.

And now we come to the most horrible track Bon Jovi ever recorded; the title track. I don’t know how to describe it. “Burning Bridges” feels like German “Schlager”, which means it is a song for a beer tent at a village festival. It just sounds horrible. It seems like Jon & Co. wanted to be funny with that one, so you shouldn’t take this song too seriously. It’s absolutely crap and embarrassing to hear. Luckily this nightmare is over after two minutes.

So what can I say in conclusion? This album simply has too much calm moments. There are just 10 songs on it and half of them are ballads that never reach the quality of “Bed Of Roses”, “I’ll Be There For you” or even “Thank You For Loving Me”. Then there is the standout-track “We Don’t Run” and the remaining tracks being solid fare. All packed in a powerless production. But what I miss the most is Richie Sambora. Not just his guitarplay. I miss his voice and the vocal harmonies between him and Jon that made so many Bon Jovi songs special. The magic is simply gone. Anyone that says Richie is not needed doesn’t really understand the essence of Bon Jovi.
Although Phil X is a gifted guitar player and did a good job on “Burning Bridges”  it all sounds like a Jon Bon Jovi solo record to me, because the remaining members, Tico Torres and David Bryan, appear not to contribute something to the whole songwriting or the way how everything is arranged.
This isn’t a “fan album”. The fans want to hear the big rock sound that Bon Jovi is known for. And not whiny ballads. A huge Rock ‘n Roll record would have been far more pleasing to the fans. I can’t understand why they don’t have the balls to do an ass kicking rock record again. “Burning Bridges” has lots of good ideas, but they are not implemented at full scale. Why are the guitars turned to 11? Why this polished production? They have nothing to lose, because the fans buy everything with the “Bon Jovi” brand on it. I think that only Jon Bon Jovi himself can answer these questions. If you like to see how it’s done right, listen to the new Trixter album (“Human Era”), which is very similar in style to Bon Jovi of old.
Finally we have another disappointing release for die-hard-fans. Only those who loved the previous two albums may find something groundbreaking here. Just lower your expectations, it is another mediocre album of a former glorious band.
Written by: Thomas Schwarzkopf

Ratings: Thomas 6/10

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