Bon Jovi – What About Now [Deluxe Edtion]
2013, Island Records
1. “Because We Can”
2. “I’m With You”
3. “What About Now”
4. “Pictures of You”
6. “That’s What the Water Made Me”
7. “What’s Left of Me”
8. “Army of One”
9. “Thick as Thieves”
10. “Beautiful World”
11. “Room at the End of the World”
12. “The Fighter”
13. “With These Two Hands”
14. “Into the Echo”
15. “Not Running Anymore”
Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Hugh McDonald – Bass, backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing vocals
Producer: John Shanks, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora
So after Greatest Hits came out in 2010 with four new tracks, I had high hopes for a new Bon Jovi studio album. Yes, I know those new tracks still represented and sounded like the “mature” and less-rocked out Bon Jovi we’ve known for the last 10 years or so, but I still liked them a lot. I guess it’s sign I’m getting older myself. Cut to the release of this album’s first single, “Because We Can”. It didn’t knock me out but I thought, “okay, this is decent”. Cut to samples of this album on Amazon.com and it sounded like such a downer and slow moving album. Granted, I was only hearing about 30 seconds of each song but my anticipating wasn’t as great anymore.
Cut to now..? I’m LOVING What About Now. It took about 3 spins before it all started to click with me. Again, this album is really no different than Have A Nice Day, Lost Highway or The Circle. It’s all within that same realm of “hey, look at us, we write thoughtful songs with social commentary and have no interest in playing hard rock anymore, so take us seriously”. But the difference here is that Bon Jovi’s need to be on the level with U2, Coldplay and (still) Bruce Springsteen is actually working for me this time.
The band is still writing anthems that the older and presumably more mature Bon Jovi demographic can enjoy (“Because We Can”, “What About Now”, “Army of One”) while still catering to the fans they gained with surprising success of the country/acoustic-tinged Lost Highway (“What’s Left of Me”, “The Fighter”). There’s also a number of mellow moments and ballads on the album. Perhaps too many but it doesn’t change the quality of the songs themselves. “Because We Can” is probably the most upbeat song on the album and I find myself wishing there were more bombastic moments like that. It’s a great way to open the album but the energy is downhill after that.
Despite the shift in style & attitude over the last decade, Bon Jovi has always offered up at least one classic sounding Bon Jovi ballad per album. I think “Thick As Thieves” is supposed to that one song on this release and while it’s a good song, it seems to fall short just a bit of what I think they were aiming for (perhaps they should’ve enlisted the aid of Desmond Child for that one).
Speaking of songwriting credits, Richie Sambora only has four credits on the standard version of the album. I won’t get too much up in arms about it because I do like the album but I think it’s a bit sad that Jon has relegated Richie (and everyone else in the band) to the status of basically being employees instead of band-mates. In this day and age, you play and write what Jon tells you to, I guess.
The bonus tracks are really good on this deluxe edition. “With These Two Hands” is another inspirational anthem, “Into the Echo” puts the band back into their thoughtful mood and “Not Running Anymore” is a somber Jon Bon Jovi song that he wrote and played solo for the movie Stand Up Guys that’s sure to please Lost Highway/Blaze of Glory fans.
While the band’s shift from hard rock & pop-metal to an adult contemporary act has been painful, with What About Now I think they’ve made the transformation a success. Is this a classic album or even what I want to hear from Bon Jovi? No, but it’s still a very good release and easily the best thing they’ve done since 2002’s Bounce.
Highlights: “Because We Can”, “I’m With You”, “Pictures of You”, “Amen”, “What About Now”, “Thick As Thieves”, “The Fighter”, “Into the Echo”, “Not Running Anymore”