Bon Jovi – Burning Bridges
2015, Mercury Records
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
8. Life Is Beautiful
9. I’m Your Man
10. Burning Bridges
Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Accordion
Tico Torres – Drums, Backing Vocals
Hugh McDonald – Bass, Backing Vocals
John Shanks – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Lorenza Ponce – Viola, violin, cello
Mike Rew – Backing Vocals
Burning Bridges is an interesting project. It’s the band’s thirteenth studio album, yet the band is already working on a fourteenth “full-scale” studio release and there seems to be very little promotion for this album coming from the band. True, they did release “We Don’t Run” as a single and will presumably be featuring that song on their upcoming international tour, but the band’s official website, Facebook and Twitter pages make no mention of Burning Bridges. You can’t even buy it from the band’s official merchandise website.
Jon Bon Jovi has been quoted as saying this album is “for the fans”. Not sure what that means exactly or how that is. Burning Bridges is a collection of “songs that weren’t finished, that were finished, a couple of new ones,” according to Jon. From little information is out there about this album, these are songs that the band had worked on over the last 10 years. I’m not sure how much of a part former guitarist Richie Sambora had in this album. He’s credited with a co-write on “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning” but I’m not sure if a single note of his is used on this album or if Jon called in the likes of touring guitarist Phil X or producer/songwriting partner John Shanks to fill-in.
Despite the oddness surrounding this album and the sadness that this is the last Bon Jovi album that Richie Sambora is going to have a part in (well, for now at least…), the songs are quite enjoyable. In the last 10 years, three of the four albums the band has released have been extremely bland and boring modern rock, IMO. So it’s surprising that I’m enjoying so many of these songs since their origins go back to a few of those albums, apparently.
For the last few years, I’ve found myself enjoying the modern Bon Jovi sound more and more. I still don’t care for Have a Nice Day, The Circle or Lost Highway, but What About Now was very good and I really liked the new songs that were included on Greatest Hits. Even those some of the songs from Burning Bridges must originate from some of the sessions of the albums that I don’t like, Burning Bridges itself is a very enjoyable effort as long as you can get past the fact that this band will never write another “Bad Medicine” or “You Give Love a Bad Name”. Most of the album is a fairly mellow affair full of ballads. The album even opens with a ballad! “We Don’t Run”, “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning” and “I’m Your Man” are the only truly rambunctious songs on the entire album.
Oh, and about that cover? You’d think it would be a natural for it to be released on vinyl, right? NOPE. It’s available only on CD or digital download. WTF? Maybe at some point later it will be, but I doubt it. The CD comes in a cardboard slipcase and that’s it. There’s the track-listing on the back and that’s it. There’s no pictures, no printed lyrics, no insight as to the unique nature of this album or the songs, no band credits. It’s a bare-bones and, frankly, sad way for a multi-platinum act such as Bon Jovi to leave their record label of 30+ years. Jon has a few things to say about Mercury Records on the album’s last track (turns out Burning Bridges isn’t a reference to Richie Sambora at all) with a loose, rowdy acoustic sing-along number that has a vibe like Great White’s “Wasted Rock Ranger”.
Despite the odd treatment this release has been given by the band and (soon-to-be former?) record label, Burning Bridges is a very strong release for the band. The mood of the album may be a bit dour, melancholy and cynical and it could use a few more rockers (and Richie) but Burning Bridges is a great release for the year and gives me hope for what the band can accomplish with an all-new release in 2016.
Highlights: “A Teardrop in the Sea”, “We Don’t Run”, “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning”, “Blind Love”, “Who Would You Die For”, “Fingerprints”, “Burning Bridges”