BON JOVI – What About Now [Deluxe Edition] (2013)
New Jersey icons BON JOVI are releasing tomorrow (next week this Deluxe Edition) their twelfth studio album “What About Now”.
At this point of their career, Bon Jovi has no interest in breaking any ground, and “What About Now” is not likely to introduce the group to those who aren’t previously committed.
But fans will find the album a focused and energetic exercise in the sort of fist-raising, arena rock that Bon Jovi can still do as well as anybody — and that is still valuable, no matter how radically musical times have changed.
Somehow lost in their delivery since the last couple of albums, Bon Jovi has not sounded this driven or awake in the studio in years. Even the band haters have never thrown stones at the group’s musicianship. With their skills honed by decades on the road, these now mature musicians are playing as well as they ever have.
Richie Sambora’s signature guitar leads enliven the title track and lead single “Because We Can”, his delicate acoustic guitar decorates the ballad “Amen” and on “Beautiful World”, he chimes away on the high strings with the urgency of a young kid hungry for glory.
Drummer Tico Torres, who still hits his snare with conviction, provides heavy black frames for these bright acrylic paintings; while secret-weapon synth player David Bryan brightens the corners of the mixes with string pads and those fat, burbling mid-range sounds that seem exclusive to Bon Jovi albums.
Then there’s the Jovi musician who never gets any love from fans but has become a fundamental piece of solid groove for the group’s musicianship: bassist Hugh McDonald. His cement-solid throb anchors two of the best cuts on the record: the optimistic single “Because We Can” with its sing-along, feel good vibe, and the defiant “That’s What The Water Made Me”.
And what about Jon Bon Jovi itself in 2013?
The singer remains an indefatigable force. Jon sings in this new record with more vigor and believability than in any of the band’s albums from the last decade, blowing his melodies straight through his characteristic leonine nose really convincingly for the most part.
His determination to identify with working-class characters gets him in hot water, especially when he chews up all the scenery he can in the name of hard-eyed realism.
“I’m With You” a minor-key grinder that doesn’t entirely hang together, is a desperate statement of solidarity with the downtrodden and impoverished. Even if that sentiment sounds a little funny coming from a world-famous rock star, he wants to believe it badly, and his desire to align himself with the poor bestows dignity on the song.
To be fair, the plight of the working stiff has been his preferred topic since the ’80s, and we loved then, why not now in 2013.
The love songs on the disc lead with compassion and comfort, too. At least for this outing, Bon Jovi is less interested in romantic fire than he is in sanctuary.
On “Because We Can”, he likens himself to a rock, and that’s not merely a tribute to the style his band will go down playing, no matter what. A rock is steady and reliable, firm and unchanging — quite a bit like Bon Jovi itself.
With “What About Now” Bon Jovi has returned, at least partially, to their trademark delivery of air-punching numbers with some of the fire from the band’s late eighties / nineties style. More rocking, more rougher and with a slightly edgy sound provided by John Shanks’ production.
“What About Now” really does show where Jon Bon Jovi and his three band-mates have come over the years: a quite solid and consistent rock act.
01 – Because We can
02 – I’m With You
03 – What About Now
04 – Pictures Of You
05 – Amen
06 – That’s What The Water Made Me
07 – What’s Left Of Me
08 – Army Of One
09 – Thick As Thieves
10 – Beautiful World
11 – Room At The End of The World
12 – The Fighter
13 – With These Two Hands (bonus track)
14 – Not Running Anymore (bonus track)
15 – Old Habits Die Hard (bonus track)
16 – Every Road Leads Home To You (bonus track)
Jon Bon Jovi – lead vocals
Richie Sambora – guitar, backing vocals
David Bryan – keyboards, backing vocals
Tico Torres – drums
Hugh McDonald – bass, backing vocals