Released by: Mercury Records
Release date: 21 August 2015
Jon Bon Jovi – Lead singer, guitars
David Bryan – Piano
Tico Torres – Drums
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.